Nonfiction is more than just your outdated math textbook. And while yes, many nonfiction books are boring, there is truly nothing more satisfying than knowing that the incredible story you’ve just read is true. Here are four of my favorite graphic novels based in truth.
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Maus is definitely a go-to for anyone looking to get into the nonfiction genre, but is scared that it’s going to be boring. Which honestly, can be true. This graphic novel was published in 1981 and it is still fantastic to this day. Maus is a relatively nonfiction story: the essence of the plot it true, with author Art Spiegelman telling the story of the Holocaust, as explained through interviews with Art’s Polish-Jewish father, an Auschwitz survivor. The fictional aspect is that the graphic novel uses anthropomorphized animals as the characters. Jewish people are mice, Germans are cat, Poles are pigs. The incredible story is told through art, which makes it even more powerful. It’s also the only graphic novel to ever win the Pulitzer, the highest award for writing. Trigger warning for trauma, anti-Semitism, suicide, and hate crimes.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is another incredible story told through the graphic novel medium. In this two-novel series, author Marjane Satrapi talks about her experiences growing up through the Iranian revolution. This revolution, as she describes through incredible drawings, resulted in a four-hundred year dynasty brought to its knees: and in its place, a ruthless dictator began to rise. Trigger warning for mentions of violence, sexism, war, and guns.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
You may recognize the name Alison Bechdel as the creator of the Bechdel test, a test which asks if a movie can have non-male centric interactions between women for more than two minutes. Fun Home became popular enough that it’s now an award-winning Broadway musical! There’s no easy way to describe this plot, but it’s essentially a non-linear storytelling about Bechdel coming to terms with being a lesbian while her father struggles as a closeted gay man It’s a million stories in one and I could not put it down. Content warning: occasional NSFW dialogue not intended for a younger audience, swearing, mentions of suicide, and LGBT-related trauma.
Palestine by Joe Sacco
Joe Sacco's Palestine was controversial when it was released, and it's controversial to this day. A journalist by trade, Joe Sacco aspired to tell an authentic story about the Palestinian experience: though he is not Palestinian himself. This graphic novel is one that I'll never forget: it's part interview, part memoir, part police brutality expose, which serves as a brilliant contrast between Art Spiegelman's Maus. Trigger warning for anti-semitism, war, and mentions of violence.
is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto. When she isn't writing, she's reading and working on her bullet journal. You can read more of her work at ashaswann.com