100 Days in Uranium City is a quiet, calm read that’ll leave you empathizing with the life of a 70s miner

Ariane Dénommé lays out a thoughtful story in comic-book form about life in 100 day shifts at a uranium mine

By: Amal Javed Abdullah

If you’re looking for a short yet meaningful read, 100 Days in Uranium City by Canadian illustrator Ariane Dénommé is the perfect graphic novel to pick up. Best to read on a rainy day by a window, this comic is quiet, calm — almost soothing. 100 Days beautifully combines the two opposing elements of insightfulness in its message and intrigue in its plot, weaving them together to create an intricate storyline.   

     Set in the 70s, the story follows Daniel, a 24-year-old miner. After hurting himself and being sent home on sick leave, Daniel is reassigned to a Uranium mining town. The town is far removed from the rest of civilization, and work is completed in blocks of 100 day shifts with two-week breaks in between. Daniel sets off, leaving his girlfriend Carole behind, taking the reader on a journey to the mining town with him.

     He discovers that while the pay is good, not only is the work exhausting and tedious, but the seclusion from loved ones is depressing — this aspect drives some men to count down the 100 days to when they get to return home. Following Daniel’s story gives insight to a number of things: they ways these men deal with the grueling work of the mine, the coping mechanisms they adopt for being isolated from their loved ones, and their thoughts on their experiences in the mining town.

      This graphic novel is presented in the form of sketches accompanying text. As someone who hasn’t read a comic book since when Captain Underpants was all the rage in elementary school, this graphic novel was a pleasant introduction back into the genre. The text is minimal, leaving the reader to fashion their own story from the pictures. While it took me quite a few pages to wrap my brain around this form, I found it an enjoyable format for communicating thoughts and ideas from the mines. The very nominal text and dependency on the sketches gives the story a certain magic, putting the onus on the reader to choose how they interpret and understand 100 Days in Uranium’s narrative.