Stassen 1966- (Jean-Philippe Stassen)

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Stassen 1966- (Jean-Philippe Stassen)


Born March 14, 1966, in Liège, Belgium.




Writer and illustrator.


Déogratias: A Tale of Rwanda, translated by Alex Siegel, First Second (New York, NY), 2006.

Illustrator of other graphic novels and albums with writer Denis Lapière, including Bahama, Aire Libre of Dupuis, Le Bar du Vieux Français, and Bullwhite. Author and illustrator of graphic albums Louis le Portugais, Thérèse, and Les Enfants.


Stassen, who goes by his last name only, is a graphic novelist and illustrator from Belgium. Born Jean-Philippe Stassen in 1966, he traveled considerably as a young man, which influenced his later comics work. Stassen, as an illustrator, has collaborated several times with writer Denis Lapière. He is also the author and illustrator of graphic novels such as Louis le Portugais and Les Enfants.

In Déogratias: A Tale of Rwanda written and illustrated by Stassen, the title character is a deeply troubled and haunted young man who participated in the brutal ethnic slayings of Tutsi tribe members by Hutus in a mid-1990s genocidal rampage that left more than 800,000 Tutsis dead. The killings amounted to genocide, and they were often brutally carried out by hand, in close quarters, at the chopping and slashing edge of a heavy machete. In flashbacks, the reader discovers that Déogratias was enamored of two Tutsi sisters, Benina and Apollinaria, but when the killings start in 1994, affection toward any Tutsi is forgotten as he is swept up in the actions of the murderous mobs. Later, traumatized and mentally unbalanced by his actions, he roams the countryside on the verge of death, often malnourished and thirsty, hallucinating and frequently barking like a dog. Stassen subtly but effectively evokes the horror of the genocide, and he sparingly deals with the killings themselves. He also points the finger of blame at Europe and America for their lack of intervention in the tragedy.

"The tragedy and international shame of the Rwandan genocide [of the 1990s] is realized in this fictional and symbolism-studded parable," commented Booklist reviewer Francisca Goldsmith. The graphic novel's "full-color art can be both brutal and beautiful, and is extremely effective," commented George Galuschak in Kliatt. However, the story is "bleak," Galuschak observed, additionally noting that "Déogratias is a tale with no heroes." The "importance of the story and the heartbreaking beauty of its presentation make it an essential purchase" for libraries, remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic.



Booklist, March 15, 2006, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Déogratias: A Tale of Rwanda, p. 55.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2006, review of Déogratias, p. 468.

Kliatt, September, 2006, George Galuschak, review of Déogratias, p. 36.

ONLINE, (June 24, 2007), biography of Stassen.