Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison, edited by Sarah Mirk

Guantanamo Voices by Sarah Mirk

Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison by Sarah Mirk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I was trying to explain why Guantanamo Voices worked so potently for me to somebody and I think it centres on the inescapability of the image. If I were to say to you, for example, the word “cat”, it might mean a thousand things. A tabby, a grey, white, ginger; stood, walking, sleeping, whatever. Your idea of that word is yours and I can’t ever quite know what that is. We’ll have some commonality, sure (I’ll say “cat” and you’ll know I mean a “cat thing” as opposed to, say, a “hammer”) but your image of the word is yours and yours alone.

But when it comes to graphic novels, we have to see what’s there; the image becomes this dominant lens of interpretation; it is what we see and we both see the same thing and we can’t escape that. And that’s where Guantanamo Voices does something remarkable: it presents these awful, hideous, challenging, ‘don’t look away’ stories, and it makes you see them. It makes you not look away.

And there’s a lot here to not look away from. Guantanamo Voices is a collection of interviews with key players; the journalist, the prisoner, the social worker and more. Each interview is put together by a different artist, whilst Mirk’s experience as a visiting journalist functions as something of a bookend. There’s some savvy editing work at play here; the art throughout adopts a similar, cohesive palette, whilst the individual artist is still able to inject their own style and dynamism to the text.

An unflinching piece of work with some wise, transparent curation.

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