Malaka Gharib

Award Winning YA Graphic Novelist
NPR Science Desk Reporter
Travels from: Nashville, TN

“The question of ‘What are you?’ has never been answered with so much charm.”- Marissa Moss, New York Journal of Books

Malaka Gharib is a journalist, cartoonist and graphic novelist. She is the author of I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir, winner of the 2020 Arab American Book Award. Her new graphic memoir, It Won’t Always Be Like This, is coming out in September 2022. By day, she works on NPR’s science desk, reporting on global health and development topics such as humanitarian aid and gender and income inequality. She also writes for NPR on her experience as the child of immigrants, from talking to her Filipino mom about mental health to hosting an Eid feast for her Muslim father. Her comics, zines and writing have been published in Catapult, The Seventh Wave Magazine, The Nib, Saveur Magazine, It’s Nice That, Lucky Peach, The Washington City Paper, Nashville Scene, The Believer Magazine, The New York Times, The New York Times Style Magazine and The New Yorker.

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It Won’t Always Be Like This: A Graphic Memoir

Ten Speed Press |
Graphic Novel

An intimate graphic memoir about an American girl growing up with her Egyptian father’s new family, forging unexpected bonds and navigating adolescence in an unfamiliar country—from the award-winning author of I Was Their American Dream.

“What a joy it is to read Malaka Gharib’s It Won’t Always Be Like This, to have your heart expertly broken and put back together within the space of a few panels, to have your wonder in the world restored by her electric mind.”—Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

It’s hard enough to figure out boys, beauty, and being cool when you’re young, but even harder when you’re in a country where you don’t understand the language, culture, or social norms.

Nine-year-old Malaka Gharib arrives in Egypt for her annual summer vacation abroad and assumes it’ll be just like every other vacation she’s spent at her dad’s place in Cairo. But her father shares news that changes everything: He has remarried. Over the next fifteen years, as she visits her father’s growing family summer after summer, Malaka must reevaluate her place in his life. All that on top of maintaining her coolness!

Malaka doesn’t feel like she fits in when she visits her dad–she sticks out in Egypt and doesn’t look anything like her fair-haired half siblings. But she adapts. She learns that Nirvana isn’t as cool as Nancy Ajram, that there’s nothing better than a Fanta and a melon-mint hookah, and that her new stepmother, Hala, isn’t so different from Malaka herself.

It Won’t Always Be Like This is a touching time capsule of Gharib’s childhood memories—each summer a fleeting moment in time—and a powerful reflection on identity, relationships, values, family, and what happens when it all collides.

I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir

Clarkson Potter |
Graphic Novel

“A portrait of growing up in America, and a portrait of family, that pulls off the feat of being both intimately specific and deeply universal at the same time. I adored this book.”—Jonny Sun

“[A] high-spirited graphical memoir . . . Gharib’s wisdom about the power and limits of racial identity is evident in the way she draws.”—NPR

WINNER OF THE ARAB AMERICAN BOOK AWARD • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • The New York Public Library • Kirkus Reviews

I Was Their American Dream is at once a coming-of-age story and a reminder of the thousands of immigrants who come to America in search for a better life for themselves and their children. The daughter of parents with unfulfilled dreams themselves, Malaka navigated her childhood chasing her parents’ ideals, learning to code-switch between her family’s Filipino and Egyptian customs, adapting to white culture to fit in, crushing on skater boys, and trying to understand the tension between holding onto cultural values and trying to be an all-American kid.

Malaka Gharib’s triumphant graphic memoir brings to life her teenage antics and illuminates earnest questions about identity and culture, while providing thoughtful insight into the lives of modern immigrants and the generation of millennial children they raised. Malaka’s story is a heartfelt tribute to the American immigrants who have invested their future in the promise of the American dream.

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Stories of Identity Through Graphic Novels

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Teaching (Practically Anything) With Comics

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Craft N' Kwentuhan: A Filipino American Zine Workshop

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Exploring Your Immigrant Story & Personal History with Mini Zines

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Creating a Graphic Novel/Memoir

Malaka Gharib’s NPR reporting

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Arab American Book Award Winner.
Deputy editor and digital strategist on NPR’s global health and development team.
Part of reporting teams that have won two Gracie Award.

Media clips

Media Kit

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