Toral Gajarawala at Dissent:
How to fill in the blanks of the “K-word,” that black hole of Indian nationalism? And how might those outside the valley see Kashmir anew? A young artist has recently given us one answer. In Munnu: A Boy from Kashmir, life in the valley is etched into black-and-white cartoon boxes, and Kashmiris—reimagined as hangul, an endangered species of deer native to the region—fill the pages. Munnu is the graphic-novel debut of Malik Sajad, now twenty-nine, who began publishing cartoons in the English-language daily Greater Kashmir at the age of thirteen. It is the story of a young boy in Srinagar—Batamaloo, specifically, the neighborhood that has been referred to as the Gaza of Kashmir—and his family, his schooling, and his entry into the profession of journalism and cartooning. But it is also a story of political education, spanning from the fiery early 1990s to the relatively placid 2010s, as Munnu learns what it means to be a subject in Indian-occupied Kashmir. What it means is the routinization of curfew, the mandatory reporting of adult males to the police for security checks, months upon months of school closures, and the loss of many friends to militant training camps across the border. It also means attending funeral processions for many young men like himself.