Powerful Graphic Novels That Navigate Identity by Arab-American Authors

Check out these incredible graphic novels written by Arab-American authors that utilize various art styles to capture the journey of identity and belonging.

Author's Corner Diverse Voices Graphic Novels Recommendations
Book covers of all four graphic novels featured by Arab-American authors.

As we celebrate Arab American Heritage Month, it’s important to honor the different cultures and experiences that encompass Arab American identity. With the expansion of graphic novels to fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, and more, these authors have chosen the art of writing graphic novels to share stories. Follow their stories through various art styles that paint the lives that characters live, encounter, and reflect upon.

It Won’t Always Be Like This by Malaka Gharib

This memoir follows the journey of nine-year-old Malaka Gharib as she navigates her father’s remarriage. As she grows up and tries to find her footing with her father’s new family in Cairo, Egypt, she’ll learn how to live in an unfamiliar country and culture while learning about the new additions to her family.

Book cover of It Won't Always Be Like This by Malaka Gharib, with herself featured on the cover in a car.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP

This Country: Searching for Home in (Very) Rural America by Navied Mahdavian

This graphic memoir explores the experiences of living in rural Idaho. Writer Navied Mahdavian lived with his wife and dog in a cabin, where he gained big dreams for his future and pondered what it means to belong in America amidst politics, environments, and understanding the complexity of identity.

Book Cover of This Country: Searching for Home in (Very) Rural America with two colors split in the middle, representing Mahdavian's journey in Idaho and San Francisco,
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP

Huda F Are You by Huda Fahmy

Set right after moving to Dearborn, Michigan, with a large Muslim population, the story follows Huda as she finds herself and who she is alongside fellow hijabis in town. She meets the kids in town and learns the different characteristics that everyone showcases. Soon, she’ll discover that while she may not share the same attributes as everyone else, she has other unique aspects that let her shine just as she is.

Book cover of Huda F Are You by Huda Fahmy, with the main character Huda speaking through a speech bubble, "I dunno." with her schoolmates in the back.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP

Squire by Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh, Illustrated by Sara Alfageeh

To close the list, this fantasy graphic novel follows Aiza’s pursuits to be a Knight, a highly coveted position, especially as this would grant her full citizenship. Since Aiza comes from the subjugated Ornu people, she must hide her identity as she trains to be a Knight. What does it mean to be a Knight? What does it mean to be Ornu? Aiza will have to navigate the dangers of being a part of the Bayt-Sajji military while understanding who she truly is.

Book cover of Squire with main character Aiza with some pillars and clouds.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP

Finding your identity and knowing who are among the people you meet, events you encounter, and the questions you ask is no easy feat. Still, these graphic novels remind us that while there will be difficulties, it is not impossible to find hope in the journey of life.


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FEATURED IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / BERNARDINE LANDICHO