An Excerpt from Shubeik Lubeik
Deena Mohamed is an Egyptian designer, illustrator, and writer. She first began making comics at eighteen, when she created the viral webcomic Qahera, a satirical superhero strip starring a visibly Muslim superheroine.
Her new work, Shubeik Lubeik (Pantheon, 2023)—a fairy-tale rhyme meaning “Your Wish Is My Command” in Arabic—is the story of three characters navigating a world where wishes are literally for sale; mired in bureaucracy and the familiar prejudices of our world, the more expensive the wish, the more powerful and therefore the more likely to work as intended. The novel’s three parts tell the story of three first-class wishes as used by Aziza, Nour, and Shokry. Although their stories are fantastical—featuring talking donkeys, dragons, and cars that can magically avoid traffic—each one grapples with the very real challenge of trying to make their most deeply held desires come true. The excerpt published here is from part 3, Shokry’s story.
Deena Mohamed’s mix of calligraphy and contemporary styles brings to life a vibrant Cairene neighborhood and a cast of characters whose struggles and triumphs are deeply resonant. Shubeik Lubeik heralds the arrival of a huge new talent and a brave, literary, political, and feminist new voice. Originally published in Arabic in Egypt, Shubeik Lubeik was awarded the Best Graphic Novel prize and the Grand Prize at the 2017 Cairo Comix Festival.
Editorial note: The panels and balloons in the cells should be read right to left, top to bottom, as they would be in the Arabic original.