A beautifully drawn graphic novel that illuminates the conflicted land of Kashmir, through a young boy’s childhood.
Seven-year-old Munnu is growing up in Indian-administered Kashmir. Life revolves around his family: Mama, Papa, sister Shahnaz, brothers Adil and Akhtar and, his favourite, older brother Bilal. It also revolves around Munnu’s two favourite things – sugar and drawing.
But Munnu’s is a childhood experienced against the backdrop of conflict. Bilal’s classmates are crossing over into the Pakistan-administered portion of Kashmir to be trained to resist the ‘occupation’; Papa and Bilal are regularly taken by the military to identification parades where informers will point out ‘terrorists’; Munnu’s school is closed; close neighbours are killed and the homes of Kashmiri Hindu families lie abandoned, as once close, mixed communities have ruptured under the pressure of Kashmir’s divisions.
Munnu is an amazingly personal insight into everyday life in Kashmir. Closely based on Malik Sajad’s own childhood and experiences, it is a beautiful, evocatively drawn graphic novel that questions every aspect of the Kashmir situation – the faults and responsibilities of every side, the history of the region, the role of Britain and the West, the possibilities for the future. It opens up the story of this contested and conflicted land, while also giving a brilliantly close, funny and warm-hearted portrait of a boy’s childhood and coming-of-age.
Reviews of Munnu: A Boy From Kashmir
- ‘A remarkable and important graphic novel … It is testimony to the skill of this debut work – penned by a 25-year-old – that, while Munnu seems uncritical of these characters, we see their ugly side’ Independent
- ‘A dense, intense and arresting read that will tear your heart apart and have you sweating with vicarious fear. Those who already relished Marjane Satrapi’s PERSEPOLIS, Belle Yang’s FORGET SORROW or Kunwu & Otie’s A CHINESE LIFE are going to love this. I’m thinking particularly PERSEPOLIS, for this too centres on the strength, reliance and resourcefulness of a family in the wake of oppression … There’s so much about life in Kashmir which I didn’t understand. Since the terrifying nuclear brinksmanship in 1999 which I remember so well, it’s rather fallen from our news cycles, hasn’t it? This great graphic novel, I am convinced, will bring it back to the forefront of our attention’ Page 45