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“To Dream of Birds”

“To Dream of Birds”

Autobiography, Photography, and Memory in Nina Bunjevac’s “August, 1977” and Fatherland

(p.207) 14 “To Dream of Birds”
The Canadian Alternative
Mihaela Precup
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines Serbian-Canadian cartoonist Nina Bunjevac’s autobiographical story “August, 1977” and her graphic memoir, Fatherland, to establish their contribution not only to the debate on (self-)representation, scripturality, and visuality in comics, but also to the depiction of paternal absence in graphic narrative form. Bunjevac’s use of drawings of photographs stands out; she uses photorealism to represent many events that the author never witnessed.The visual framework provided by Bunjevac is, in fact, structured by photorealistic drawings (of maps, planes, birds, family photographs) that suggest the double bind of exile: the emotional toll of traveling far away from one’s home, together with the inexorable pull back towards one’s place of birth. This is perhaps more specifically true of Bunjevac’s family, whose move to Canada was haunted by the father’s extreme right wing connections from Serbia, which finally resulted in his death while he was planning a terrorist attack.

Keywords:   Autobiography, Fatherhood, Photography, Serbia, Terrorism

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