AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

Biography and Personal Narratives


Abdelrazaq, L. (2015). Baddawi. Charlottesville, Virginia: Just World Books.

Comics as a medium seem perfectly attuned to personal narratives: their ability to tell a micro-history that is rooted in a wider political and historical context, without losing the emotional resonance that often accompanies (auto)biographies, makes them perfect candidates for what has come to be called “comicgraphy”. In her moving debut, cartoonist Abdelrazaq tells the story of her father, Ahmad, a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon. Through a subtle interplay between text and image, and through the use of a childlike black-and-white drawing style, Abdel Razzaq depicts coming of age against the backdrop of war, and conveys with great sensitivity the tragedy of people caught up in endless political strife. The effect on the reader is shattering.

مربى ولبن.jpg

Mirhij, L. (2008). Murabbá wa-laban. Lebanon: al-Samnadal.

When rendered through the multi-layered medium of comics, the emphasis on the seemingly ordinary and mundane, can assume a greater significance, and embody the sense in which a certain situated personal identity can come to be constructed, lived and shared by an entire generation. We showcase here two examples of how a biography and an autobiography, the former written by Lina Merhej regarding her mother, and the latter by  Zeina Abi Rached regarding her childhood in Beirut, can succeed, through simple means (mundane anecdotes, emphases on ordinary daily life details, and personal memories),  rendered through the  multi-layered dual modalities of comics (text and image), to embody the spirit and time of an entire generation.

I remember Beirut016.jpg

Abirached, Z., Gauvin, E., & Graphic Universe (Firm),. (2014). I remember Beirut.

مترو-مجدي الشافعي-الاسكندرية- مصنع الفن فابريكا- 2014  3.jpg

الشافعي، م. (2014). مترو: رواية مصورة. الإسكندرية: مصنع الفن فابريكا.

Because of the typical multi-modal discourse used by comics (text and image; representation of space through time; graphics, colors, typography, different sizes of fonts, etc.) comics seem best positioned to represent the biographical subject as multiply positioned in complex worlds and discourses, in ways which can both faithfully embody and highlight the multiple and fragmented nature of the modern self, as well as critique it.  In this graphic novel written in Arabic, and banned in Egypt for a while, author Magdy el-Shafee tells a personal story of his encounter with the political and social conditions of the recent Arab revolutions in Egypt. A lively, and arresting personal account succeeds in conveying the mood, reality, hopes, fears, disappointments, and aspirations of an entire generation.