Cover image for The fixer : a story from Sarajevo
The fixer : a story from Sarajevo
Sacco, Joe.
Personal Author:
First Drawn and Quarterly edition.
Publication Information:
Montréal : Drawn and Quarterly ; London : Turnaround, [2003]

Physical Description:
105 pages : chiefly illustrations ; 28 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DR1313.S25 F58 2003 Graphic Novel Central Library
DR1313.S25 F58 2003 Graphic Novel Graphic Novels

On Order



When bombs are falling and western journalism is the only game left in town "fixers" are the people who sell war correspondents the human tragedy and moral outrage that makes news editors happy.

It's dangerous, a little amoral and a lot desperate.

Award-winning comix-journalist Joe Sacco goes behind the scene of war correspondence to reveal the anatomy of the big scoop. He begins by returning us to the dying days of Balkan conflict and introduces us to his own fixer; a man looking to squeeze the last bit of profit from Bosnia before the reconstruction begins. Thanks to a complex relationship with the fixer Joe discovers the crimes of opportunistic warlords and gangsters who run the countryside in times of war. But the west is interested in a different spin on the stories coming out of Bosnia. Almost ten years later, Joe meets up with his fixer and sees how the new Bosnian government has "dealt" with these criminals and Joe ponders who is holding the reins of power these days...

Author Notes

Joe Sacco was born in Malta in 1960. Raised in the USA, Sacco graduated with a degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 1981. For almost twenty years Joe has been a journalist/cartoonist/editor. He is also a consummate traveler, always on the move following stories, especially in Europe and the Middle East.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Comic-strip journalist Sacco returns to Bosnia for a second work of hand-drawn reportage, more intimate than yet as compelling as his acclaimed Safe Area Gorazde (2000). The book focuses on former paramilitary fighter Neven, who has become a "fixer," earning a dubious living by doling out information and contacts to foreign journalists. Sacco meets Neven in 1995, as the Balkans War is winding down, and becomes enthralled by this shady, opportunistic character's tales of the warlords who terrorized the countryside as they fought against the Serbs. As Sacco becomes more reliant on Neven, the man's truthfulness, particularly those of his own heroics, grows more questionable. A poignant epilogue reveals much about Neven's fate but leaves many of Sacco's doubts intact. Sacco's mastery of the comics medium allows him to present a story as detailed as any print journalism and more expressive than the most adept film documentary. His careful, precise drawing ideally complements his expressive and dynamic layouts, and by focusing on a single character, he further realizes the possibilities of nonfiction comics. --Gordon Flagg Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Intrepid reporter and comics artist Sacco returns to Bosnia and Sarajevo to chronicle Neven, a "fixer" who leads Western reporters to stories, dispensing information and literally guiding them through the fascinating, dangerous landscape of post-war Sarajevo and Bosnia. Neven worked for Sacco (Safe Area Gorazde) when he wrote his previous book about the Bosnian war. Initially suspicious of him, Sacco gradually realized Neven's own story-a microcosm of the Balkan conflict itself-may be the most compelling story of all. A native Sarajevan, Neven watched as rebel Serb nationalists armed themselves against an unarmed multi-ethnic Sarajevo and Bosnian Republic. Neven eventually fought to defend Sarajevo as his city was torn apart. He joined criminal gangs, thieves and borderline sociopaths-warlords who often defied the government-who ultimately took up the call to defend the Bosnian Republic. Wounded in combat, Neven became a fixer but was intimately involved-as a legitimate soldier, guerilla irregular and victimized citizen-in every aspect of the bloody conflict. He's really selling Sacco his own story ("Can you imagine the sort of movie that could be made about bastards like me?"), and Sacco marvelously weaves in his own feelings of uneasiness and awe at his guide's grim life story. The tightly wound, humane and suspenseful nonfiction graphic novella employs visual devices-e.g., the haunted, unreliable protagonist, obscured by shadow and cigarette smoke-from the best traditions of film noir. Sacco's finely wrought, expressively rendered b&w drawings perfectly capture the emotional character of Sarajevo and the people who struggle to live there. This superlative and important story is easily one of the best comics nonfiction works of the year. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This is cartoonist and war journalist Sacco's follow-up to the masterpiece Safe Area Gorazde, which recounted a siege on a Bosnian town by Serbian nationalists during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Returning to that conflict, Sacco relocates to Sarajevo and introduces Neven, a "fixer" who sells information to foreign journalists. Neven tells Sacco about a trio of gangsters seen as heroes for leading paramilitary defenders of Sarajevo against the Serbs but who reputedly committed atrocities. Sacco investigates while providing a complex character portrait of Neven, a Serb with a shady past who sided against the Serbian nationalists and fought them as a paramilitary sniper, killing men and being wounded in combat. His art combines detailed, realistic background with somewhat more cartoony figures; there is explicit violence, of course. Though not as powerful as his first book, this is a worthy addition to Sacco's oeuvre. For all adult collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Sacco's second graphic novel set in Bosnia and Sarajevo follows the author's real-life relationship with Neven, a "fixer"-one who, for cash, leads foreign journalists through the fragmented postwar landscape and sniffs out the grittiest "underground" news stories for them. Film noir conventions prevail in the black-and-white art and story-the shifty, unreliable narrator speaks amid the shadows and smoke-and the ambience is one that teens will find seductive. Neven's tales of his days as both a legitimate soldier and a guerilla gang member are interesting; even more compelling are his descriptions of the ways in which certain ruthless, sociopathic fighters became, bizarrely, bubblegum idols, their looks fantasized over and their deeds lauded in pop songs. The story is told in fragments, flashbacks, and flashforwards; what readers will gain is less a "practical" knowledge of the war and its aftermath and more a deep, realistic, and dizzying sense of the time. The book was not created with promoting "war awareness" as a primary goal, which is probably what makes it so realistic. War is not clear-cut and easily described in a narrative with a traditional beginning, middle, and end. It is full of jagged edges, and, while not difficult to follow, The Fixer, accordingly, reads like the equivalent of a roomful of broken mirrors. It will leave teens feeling stunned, intrigued, and changed.-Emily Lloyd, formerly at Rehoboth Beach Public Library, DE (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.