A Syrian Story
Joe Sacco meets Persepolis in this graphic novel from a new international talent, Hamid Sulaiman.
‘With the intimacy of a person who has lived the tragedy himself but with the restraint of a true artist, Hamid Sulaiman tells a powerful tale of Syria’s descent into cataclysm while reminding us of those still tending the seeds of the revolutionary spring.’
Winner of the 2017 PEN Translates Award
Winner of the 2017 Burgess Grant
It is spring 2012 and 40,000 people have died since the start of the Syrian Arab Spring. In the wake of this, Yasmin has set up a clandestine hospital in the north of the country. The town that she lives in is controlled by Assad’s brutal regime, but is relatively stable. However, as the months pass, the situation becomes increasingly complex and violent. Told in stark, beautiful black-and-white imagery, Freedom Hospital illuminates a complicated situation with gut-wrenching detail and very dark humour.
The story of Syria is one of the most devastating narratives of our age and Freedom Hospital is an important and timely book from a new international talent.
“Urgent, cogent and compelling… Freedom Hospital is genuinely shocking at times, but Francesca Barrie’s impressive translation also finds the black humour that tends to have a natural home in graphic novels… Yes, Freedom Hospital is a must read, but its tone, mood and form somehow make it as entertaining as it is informative and thought-provoking. A graphic novel might just be “the” piece of creative writing to come out of the horrifying mess that is Syria in the 2010s.”
Ben East, National
“With the intimacy of a person who has lived the tragedy himself but with the restraint of a true artist, Hamid Sulaiman tells a powerful tale of Syria’s descent into cataclysm while reminding us of those still tending the seeds of the revolutionary spring.”
“This eye-opening graphic novel is a powerful and moving introduction to the realities of the war in Syria. Sulaiman's stark black and white artwork brilliantly conveys the moral, political and emotional shades of grey rarely shown on the news.”
“Hamid Sulaiman's shocking inside story of an ongoing people's revolution against one of the world's most brutal regimes is eye-opening, explosive and utterly necessary. The chiaroscuro-heavy artwork, more dark than light, seems drawn in Sulaiman's heart's blood.”
“If you want insight into the complex situation in Syria, read this book. It provides a stark vision of life in a war zone but, like Freedom Hospital itself, it never loses hope.”
“Heartbreaking and funny, tender and troubling; this is a vital piece of art about the great humanitarian tragedy of our age.”
“The artwork is beautiful... It's a necessary, powerful book.”
James Bluemel, director of EXODUS
“Syrian cartoonist Sulaiman’s debut novel follows the desperate lives, noble struggles, and violent deaths of people tied to an underground hospital during the Syrian civil war... The art’s flat blacks, stark whites, and heavy lines give the work an almost impressionistic feel, bringing to the real-world images a rotoscoped look... A heartbreaking and eye-opening primer to the quagmire of a generation.”
“Sulaiman’s stripped back black and white art reminded this reader of both the work of Marjane Satrapi but also more broadly 2000AD (this must be in the future, your mind shrieks, it can’t possibly be happening now, on the same planet I’m on)... as a piece of work it’s to be applauded... a story that deserves to be read.”
“Drawn in a stark, chiaroscuro style, Sulaiman uses the simplest of imagery to convey intense, harrowing drama. It’s a subtle technique that hits like a hammer... Despite its painful subject matter, Sulaiman imbues Freedom Hospital with its fair share of gallows humour... Even when Freedom Hospital is at its bleakest, Sulaiman’s optimism shines through. Many of his characters die in acts of altruism and meaningless violence, but his focus is always on the strength and resilience of community.”
Josh Franks, Ink
“Sulaiman is notable for how he re-contextualizes the styles he references, to a startling effect.”
Naima Morelli, Middle East Eye