Title: Fax from Sarajevo: A Story of Survival
Author(s): Joe Kubert
Artist(s): Joe Kubert
Category: Biographical, War
Languages: English, Czech, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Finnish, Danish, Polish
Grade Level(s): 9-12
Mature Content?: Violence, Rape, Sexual Assault
Joe Kubert’s celebrated Fax from Sarajevo: A Story of Survival is a gripping, eminently readable tale. In 1992, as Serbia invaded Bosnia-Herzegovina and began a genocide, Ervin Rustemagic, a comic book publisher, found his family trapped. He kept in touch with friends and colleagues via fax, surviving for two years as he attempted to keep his family alive and get them out of the warzone. His friend Joe Kubert, living in New Jersey and cataloguing Ervin’s trials, collected the story in this graphic novel, basing many of his drawings on photos from the war. Though Ervin’s family counted themselves among the lucky, their tale shows many of the horrors of the war and numerous others who were not as lucky.
Though Fax from Sarajevo: A Story of Survival is an award-winning work that brings the horrors of the war in Sarajevo to life, its focus on one family’s story makes extrapolation to social studies classrooms a bit more difficult. Within language arts, as an example of graphic novel biography, it offers a starting point to discuss different media for biography, and it could fit nicely into a unit on personal narrative in a way that ties into social issues. That being said, not many resources exist for bringing this celebrated book into the classroom.