Penn State University Press’s Celebrated Graphic Novel Imprint Will Debut New Season at American Library Association’s Annual Conference

Tohar Sherman-Friedman’s ‘Good Girls Go to Hell’ and Irene Olmo’s ‘I Don’t Want to Be a Mom’ Lead off Upcoming Slate of Releases

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA–Graphic Mundi, the graphic novel imprint of Penn State University Press, proudly announces the upcoming fall 2023 lineup ahead of the American Library Association’s Annual Meeting next week in Chicago, IL.

Leading off the slate in October is an all-new edition of the acclaimed 2019 graphic novel Vanni, by Benjamin Dix and Lindsay Pollock. Set in the northern region of Sri Lanka, which was devastated by the civil war, this graphic novel follows the Ramachandran family as they flee their home after the 2004 tsunami and move from one displacement camp to the next, seeking an ever-elusive safe haven and struggling to keep each other alive. Inspired by Benjamin Dix’s experience working in Sri Lanka for the United Nations during the war, Vanni draws on more than four years of meticulous research, official reports, and first-hand interviews with refugees. Told from the perspective of a single family, it takes readers through the horrors and life-changing decisions individuals are forced to make when caught up in someone else’s war. The 2023 edition features a new cover treatment elegantly reimagined by artist Linday Pollock.

In November, Grahpic Mundi will release Tohar Sherman-Friedman’s coming-of-age graphic memoir set in the West Bank: Good Girls Go to Hell. This moving graphic memoir depicts the reality of growing up in a region split by religious tensions—and sometimes violent conflict. From political protests to personal struggles with school, body image, and relationships with family and friends, Tohar Sherman-Friedman’s life is an inspiring story of conflicting convictions, rebellion, and personal growth. Tohar recounts her experience as the youngest of seven children in a conservative Jewish family, navigating a life buffeted by high expectations for school performance and religious adherence at home and tense conflict in the world outside. With utter sincerity and through detailed panel-style drawing, she relates what it’s like to be on a journey that ultimately takes her far from how she was taught to think and what she was expected to believe.

November will also see the release of I Don’t Want to Be a Mom ; a true story of liberation and self-empowerment in the face of societal prejudice. Irene Olmo questions the imposition of motherhood on women as both an expectation and a path toward fulfillment. It shows us that “choice” has more than one dimension and that, ultimately, some questions in life are more complicated than they seem. I Don’t Want to Be a Mom  is Olmo’s coming-of-age transformation from assuming she will one day start a family to realizing that she just doesn’t want to be a mom. With an affecting mix of humor and introspection, she describes the subtle and not-so-subtle ways she was pressured to have children and the feelings of isolation and self-doubt that ensued. Her delightful full-color illustrations capture perfectly the maddeningly narrow-minded reactions of those around her as well as her own discomfort and frustration.

Graphic Mundi closes out the year and the season with another repackaged and reprinted version of the previously published Escaping Wars and Waves by Olivier Kugler. While on assignment between 2013 and 2017, often for Doctors Without Borders, Kugler interviewed and photographed Syrian refugees and their caregivers in camps, on the road, and in provisional housing in Iraqi Kurdistan, Greece, France, Switzerland, and England. Escaping Wars and Waves is the astonishing result of that record keeping—a graphic novel that brings to life the improvise, and captures the chaotic energy of the camps through movement-filled drawings that offers a poignant look at the lives of those affected by the Syrian war and the volunteers who tend to them.

Penn State University Press launched Graphic Mundi in early 2021. Books in the imprint are distributed in North America exclusively by Diamond Comic Distributors/Diamond Book Distributors. Find Graphic Mundi as part of the DBD exhibition at the conference in booth #2229.

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