Lissa: A Story about Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution
As young girls in Cairo, Anna and Layla strike up an unlikely friendship that crosses class, cultural, and religious divides. Years later, Anna learns that she may carry the hereditary cancer gene responsible for her mother's death. Meanwhile, Layla's family is faced with a difficult decision about kidney transplantation. Their friendship is put to the test when these medical crises reveal stark differences in their perspectives...until revolutionary unrest in Egypt changes their lives forever.
The first book in a new series, Lissa brings anthropological research to life in comic form, combining scholarly insights and accessible, visually-rich storytelling to foster greater understanding of global politics, inequalities, and solidarity.
- Series: ethnoGRAPHIC
- Division: Higher Education
- World Rights
- Page Count: 304 pages
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.2in x 9.1in
Reviews"In Lissa, Hamdy, Nye, their artists Bao, Brewer, and Parenteau show us how we can collaboratively transform anthropology’s ways of seeing and communicating depth and nuance in our ethnographies. As the first publication in the new ethnoGRAPHIC series from University of Toronto Press, Lissa sets a high bar and positive tone for what we can expect from this series. Like most great books, Lissa allows the reader to bring different meanings and needs to the book, engaging them in multiple conversations that explore the ways in which we are connected."
"Revolution is as intimate as family and as mammoth as regime change in this graphic novel focused on the 2011 Tahrir Square demonstrations. This is the book's greatest strength: its belief in decency, even amidst violence and trauma. Its hopeful mood is mirrored by the book's rounded, flowing visuals: Bandages flutter like hair ribbons, water sluices down Anna's surgical scars, and Layla's eyes are wide as she tends to the grievously wounded. This is a chronicle of conflict, to be sure, but it is also a tribute to persistence of friendship and the power of a people united."
"Whether you read Lissa to educate yourself about health issues or research methods, or you just want to find out what happens to Layla and Anna, this graphic novel shows the huge and still untapped potential of comics for use in medicine and global health."
"I have nothing but admiration for this book. The story is compelling—even a page turner. Moreover, it is informative, historically and culturally situated and uplifting—or, at least, it ends on a hopeful note—teaching hard truths, or glimpses of them, in an accessible and digestible way."
Shelly Errington, Anthropology Now
"The complexity of the various ethical and medical dilemmas gives the work depth and pathos without making the arguments appear didactic. It is indeed the ethnographic research—the minor characters and their voices—that give the book its special strength."
Parismita Singh, graphic novelist, Medical Anthropology Quarterly
"With the University of Toronto’s imprimatur and its ethnoGRAPHIC series, surely there are no more excuses not to expand what counts as professional, promotion-worthy ethnography. And Lissa offers a fantastic model of how to proceed. Congratulations to its visionary authors and editors."
Lochlann Jain, Medical Anthropology Quarterly
"…offers slices of contrasting Egyptian and American biomedicines and uses the characters’ dilemmas to pry open the contradictions within and between these medical systems."
Stacy Leigh Pigg, Medical Anthropology Quarterly
"A dizzying, gripping, and beautiful journey into the world of medicine and mortality—not just its complex emotional universe, but the political realities that structure it too."
Jack Shenker, author of The Egyptians: A Radical Story
"...required reading for anyone interested in the Egyptian revolution, but also for anyone interested in the complexities of being human and being alive in the twenty-first century."
Ganzeer, Egyptian revolutionary, street artist/author
"...a compelling entry into how issues of illness, mortality, and decisions around them are always shaped in the particulars of history and politics. Bravo!"
Faye Ginsburg, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Media, Culture, and History at New York University
"...brilliant storytelling and stunning scholarship."
Anne Fausto-Sterling, Ph.D., author of Sexing the Body
"...offers an intimate and powerful understanding of contemporary medicine and politics."
Emmanuel Guibert, author of The Photographer
"...a brilliant fictional account of organ failure, genetic testing, and organ transplantation...a must-read for our alarming times."
Margaret Lock, Ph.D., author of Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death
"A tangled and controversial journey through injustice and disease, infused with a healthy dose of revolutionary spirit along the way."
Mohamed and Haitham Raafat El-seht, Twins Cartoon
"A visually compelling and sensitively presented work that demonstrates how juxtaposing sequential art with narrative can render extremely complex global processes and phenomena into a gripping human story."
Benjamin Dix, Director, PositiveNegatives
"Lissa utilizes comics to the fullest, weaving the complexities of friendship, illness, and faith together in a way that bridges cultures and dispels misconceptions, while offering a narrative that engages readers to the very end."
Lina Ghaibeh, Professor of Animation and Comics, American University of Beirut
"...deftly explores diverse political, medical, and ethical themes in one accessible yet erudite package. Essential reading for the graphic medicine community."
Ian Williams, physician, cartoonist, and founder of graphicmedicine.org
"With Lissa, the creators have set a new standard for academically oriented comics."
Matthew Noe, author at Graphic Medicine
Author InformationSherine Hamdy is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. She is currently writing a young-adult graphic novel that tells the coming-of-age story of a Muslim-American woman.
Coleman Nye is Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University. She was born and raised in Virginia, but now lives in Vancouver, BC.
Sarula Bao graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 2016 with a BFA in Illustration. Based in Brooklyn, NY, her sequential work explores the queer Chinese-American experience.
Caroline Brewer graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 2016 with a degree in Illustration and a concentration in Literary Arts + Studies. They are the author of Autodesk's science fiction anthology FOUR. Currently living in Brooklyn, NY, their work explores themes of childhood, gender, love, and the magically real.
Table of contents
Foreword: Lissa and the Transduction of Ethnography by George E. Marcus
Part I Cairo
Part II Five Years Later
Part III Revolution
A Note About Page 235, Featuring the Art of Ganzeer
Afterword: Reading Lissa by Paul Karasik
Appendix I Timeline of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution
Appendix II Creating Lissa: Concepts, Collaborations, and Craft
Appendix III Teaching Guide
Appendix IV Key References and Further Reading
Subjects and Courses