Beautiful, sensitive, illuminating, and at times quite funny ... At the same time, the book is a meditation on the fundamental unfairness of the world ... Fitzgerald brilliantly uses the formal possibilities opened up by the comics medium to flesh out [the historyof Jewish refugees in eastern Europe] ... Drawn to Berlin is a book in which every page is a gem. While there may be no answers to the most painful questions, the search itself is worth every minute.
It’s disquieting how easily we can dehumanize refugees. The AP referred to the asylum seekers currently making their way through Mexico as 'a ragtag army of the poor.' ... In her new book out from Fantagraphics, Drawn to Berlin: Comic Workshops in Refugee Shelters and Other Stories from a New Europe, Ali Fitzgerald uses the current experiences of migrants in Germany as a lens through which to look at this cycle ... The book is full of illuminating asides like this. Drawing connections between the plight of modern migrants in Europe and those of 100 years ago or more ... Most of the refugees Fitzgerald spotlights end up in no more certain a place than they are when we first meet them. And given the historical and contemporary political contexts she sprinkles into the book, no easy resolution or peace of mind about the future is proffered. The reader is left, then, to think about what they see happening around the world with a sharper sense of perspective. Whether that will prevent the worst, genocidal parts of the refugee cycle from repeating is up in the air.
Fitzgerald celebrates the cathartic powers of art in her memoir recalling comic workshops she led in Berlin’s refugee shelters. Her students, mostly from Syria but also North Africa, range from adults to children, encompassing giggling tomboys and wistful artists alike ... Iconic cartoon characters, wildlife sketches, and glamour shots all spring from Fitzgerald’s students’ pencils, and it is the detail with which she recounts their work that also gives the book life ... This ode to her students isn’t just a portrayal of a city in flux or a people displaced—it is a portrait of the power of art.