A gulf of secrets: Priya Kuriyan’s graphic memoir “Ebony and Ivory”

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While the key role that migration plays in the economies of countries like India is widely recognized, subtler affective and cultural circuits are both less easily discerned, and perhaps as a consequence, less explored in scholarly literature. The transnational relation over the past several decades of India to West Asia has produced sophisticated and complex heterogenous forms — both traditional literary novelistic genres, as well as newer forms such as the graphic memoir. Through a close and attentive reading of one such memoir, Priya Kuriyan’s “Ebony and Ivory” (2017), this article seeks to articulate the fraught weight of migration. It probes the construction of migrant identities as they unfold over several generations within a single family. The memoir deconstructs the successful economic migrant as in reality bearing the scars of decades of secrecy and shame. Through the use of several refined visual strategies, Kuriyan tells us another tale of the migrant — one that, even as it seeks to carve a special narrative of courage and success in distant lands, must nevertheless also own up to a dismantling of the entrenched narrative of the happy, hardworking immigrant family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-35
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Commonwealth Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 03-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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