What Is Home, Mum?
Sabba Khan. Street Noise, $19.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-95149-117-8
Khan debuts with a deeply introspective, elegantly rendered graphic memoir about her experiences, faith, and family in the South Asian diaspora community of East London. Within the confines of the family home, Sabba is “the good girl of a good mother.” Outside of it, she questions who she is and where she belongs. She asks her mother, “Where is home?” and thereby marks the divide: to her parents, home is Kashmir, a land made inhospitable by imperialism, war, and the partition of India and Pakistan. Sabba realizes that, by embracing her contradictions and letting go of the weight of ingrained traditions, she can break through her family’s protective barrier and find “home” in the outside world and in those she loves. The loose-line art employs visual metaphors—such as Escher-esque geometric forms, nested self-portraits, or still lifes of household items with poetic commentary—to express the multiplicities and fragmentation of identity. Cultural and political history is woven between family stories and fables, and particularly poignant are the portraits of Sabba and her mother expressing their bond through touch. The prose infuses the work with a heady sensuality; when Sabba falls in love, she writes, “Beneath it all we are quivering flesh. Glistening in the sun. Goose-pimpled in the moon.” The synthesis of her work offers avenues to bridge gaps between strangers and repair frayed bonds with family. It’s a powerful debut by a singularly penetrative and eloquent voice. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/08/2022