best graphic novels 2020

A graphic novel uses the interaction of text and images/illustration to create a story. Quick myth buster: These are not children’s literature! Graphic novels are not comic books.

Comic books are a form of shorter stories that are released as issues, where, say, a monthly issue would have a complete story starting and ending in it. Whereas in a graphic novel, the storytelling is a little more complex and the stories are longer. A graphic novel can somewhere be placed between a storybook/novel and a movie.

Why do women in literature matter?

Women’s literature is often categorised by publishers as a category of writing done by women. This definition, however, is reductive in the present times. Keeping an account of all the stories, narratives and experiences of women is so crucial. Every time a woman’s voice is neglected, a share of history is lost. With a rise in female protagonists and women in media and literature, women across the globe are able to put across stories from their perspective.

Top 5 women-centric graphic novels 

  1. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

The autobiographical novel is a very engaging memoir about Satrapi’s childhood and her life in pre and post-Islamic revolution in Iran. The novel has also been made into a movie which is as engaging as the book. Satrapi does an incredible job by projecting serious and sensitive matters like surveillance, war, religion etc from the lens of a child. The novel transcends and takes us through the journey of Satrapi and her rebel side. Persepolis not only presents the political climate of Iran but also questions it through the scope of feminism and interpersonal relationships. 

Persepolis (women centric graphic novel)
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

2. All My Darling Daughters by Fumi Yoshinaga

All My Darling Daughters is a one-shot Japanese manga. Not only does the novel explore the history of women, but also aims to explore and understand the history of women’s relationships with each other. The intersectional aspect of the novel makes it an interesting read. Yukiko is the protagonist and the author divides the novel into five parts to explore different women who have impacted Yukiko’s life. The novel projects the relationship that a grown-up woman has with her mother. 

All My Darling Daughters by Fumi Yoshinaga
All My Darling Daughters by Fumi Yoshinaga
  1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

This is a graphic memoir of Bechdel’s childhood and tales about growing up. It is very hard to miss out on this book if you are looking for graphic novels. This novel talks about the hetero-normative gender identity enforced by society and the different stakeholders of the society. The novel revolves around Bechdel trying to grapple with her identity as a lesbian. It presents issues of identity, sexual orientation, and gender roles while exploring the struggles of a dysfunctional family. Bechdel tries to align her relationship with her father while understanding herself.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

4. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll 

Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods, a collection of gothic horror stories, is a gut-twisting story with a beautiful cover of language that swiftly navigates the reader throughout. The theme largely revolves around alienation, especially of young women. In this book, Emily Carroll brings together five tales of horror that are put together with similar backgrounds. All the stories are set in deep dark woods. This horror graphic novel fails to miss any chord.

Through the Woods’ by Emily Carroll

5. The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

A national bestseller and recipient of much applause, this graphic novel is a sheer delight. Bui writes that she is “seeking an origin story that will set everything right”. ‘Cultural diversity and immigration’ is a concept that is universal and at the same time very personal. Bui in her book takes us through her journey where she tries to understand her family history, understand and improvise on the relationship with her parents. She tries to fit-in into her new land. This generational story is not only a treat for the reader but also a strong reflection of reality. 

‘The Best We Could Do’ by Thi Bui

Happy reading! Don’t forget to tell me about your experience with these books.


By Anukriti Khemka

Anukriti Khemka is the Digital Ninja of The Wonk. She handles all the digital needs of The Wonk. She also writes for her column "Talking Trends". She loves to analyse digital trends and make sense out of them.

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