Albert and the Others, by Guy Delisle (2008)

As Wikipedia will tell you, Guy Delisle is best known for a series of graphic novel travelogues about voyages to (in chronological order) China, North Korea, Burma, and Israel/Palestine. The first was rather dull, mostly because it was about a dull city (or at least that’s how Delisle found it), but the rest are definitely worth reading if you like graphic novels, or if the settings are of interest to you. In particular the one on Jerusalem was unusual in that Delisle had no special interest or knowledge of the history or politics of the region before living there for a year, atypically of most of the people who write about the area, which makes for a surprisingly accessible book compared to others you might read.

All of which is to say, I like Delisle’s style, and so I picked up this book. The edition I read is actually a “translation” of Albert et les autres (2001), although it contains no text whatsoever besides the title and the usual page of bibliographic information inside the cover – unless you count the chapter titles, which consist of a series of 26 male given names from Albert through Zoltan. It consists of short sketches: amusing, but don’t expect the gravitas that comes with a subject like “daily life in contemporary Pyongyang”. You can get a sense of what to expect with this extract.