cover image Palimpsest


Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom, trans. from the Swedish by Hanna Strömberg, Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom, and Richey Wyver. Drawn & Quarterly, $21.95 (156p) ISBN 978-1-77046330-1

Sjöblom delivers an often searing and poignant, if occasionally tedious, graphic memoir of her quest to unearth her roots. Despite being raised in Sweden by loving adoptive parents, who did their best expose her to the Korean culture of her ancestry, Sjöblom struggles with racism and an internal “sense of not fully existing.” With help from her husband and a Korean-raised friend, she begins an investigation into her origins that reveals the dark history of foreign adoption: children “laundered like money and transformed into legal ‘paper orphans.’ ” The participating institutions, meanwhile, do their best to dismiss, obfuscate, and gaslight Sjöblom as she investigates, though the experience of her sifting through layers of paperwork and bureaucracy can be less than riveting. Sjöblom inks her story on parchment and transcribes numerous emails and letters over illustrations of envelopes. Her round, sweet-faced characters are set against black-and-parchment backdrops. Sometimes the result is overly text-heavy; more often, Sjöblom’s loneliness and frustration churns on the page. An unflinching indictment of foreign adoption, Sjöblom’s story is also, ironically, an homage to the chosen family who help her find her first family. (Oct.)