The Roles We Play

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Shortlisted   —First Graphic Novel Competition2018

‘One of the true rising stars of UK indie comics…combining moments of quieter symbolism with compelling visual metaphor.’—Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier

‘Where is home, Mum?’ From the foothills of the Himalayas in the Kashmiri valleys to bustling Green Street in East London, Sabba Khan researches her identity from the global to the local, covering partition, displacement, and clothing choices for an interview as a wannabe student at a prestigious private architectural school.

Khan’s eloquent minimal style and architectural page design illuminates her experiences of growing up as a second generation Azad Kashmiri migrant in East London.

The Roles We Play is Sabba Khan’s debut graphic memoir collecting a series of short essays that explore themes of identity, belonging and memory within the East London Pakistani Muslim diaspora. Together the stories paint a vivid snapshot of contemporary British Asian life and the complex generational shifts experienced within migrant communities today.

Issues of race, gender and class are brought to the forefront in a simple and personal narrative. The title of the book nods to the questions Khan explores: can religion and secularism, tradition and trend, heritage and progression move beyond a limited binary definition and toward a common space of love and understanding, and ultimately toward a pluralistic approach?

The Roles We Play was shortlisted for the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition 2018.

Anne Karpf, author and Professor of Life Writing and Culture

20 April 2021

What a cherishable book! Khan’s powerful meditation on migration and (un)belonging richly evokes her family's pre-Partition lives in what’s now Pakistan, the profound challenges of acculturation and the liminal, third space that migrants occupy. We follow her on her journey towards a third space of her own — one beyond dutiful daughter and rebellious adult, watching as personal and social histories collide, fracture and finally begin to integrate. This probing, perceptive exploration of diaspora dilemmas, and Khan’s own struggle to separate from her family and understand the roots of its often oppressive norms, will speak to the children of immigrants of every stripe and those who want to understand them. Moving and irresistible.

Benjamin Worku-Dix, PositiveNegatives

20 April 2021
Sabba Khan's deeply personal reflection on her family's history through Partition and identity struggle growing up in London is one of the most poignant graphic novels I've read. Her beautiful architectural style flowing through the pages and illustrations makes for a fascinating, informative and aesthetically stunning read.

Umi Sinha, author, Belonging

20 April 2021

I absolutely loved Sabba Khan's book. It is so wonderfully intelligent and balanced and lays out with remarkable simplicity and clarity the historical influences that are still so pervasive and unacknowledged in the unequal treatment of people of different races and genders today.  I think it should be required reading in every school in Britain.

‘The Roles We Play’ is a moving, wide-ranging and uplifting account of a second generation immigrant’s voyage of self-discovery. Sabba Khan explores with clear-sighted intelligence and passion the pitfalls and barriers – both current and historical – that immigrants face on their journey to balance the their own needs as individuals with the needs of their community, their yearning to belong with their desire to retain the richness and wisdom of the cultural heritages that have shaped them.

Zeba Talkhani, author of My Past is a Foreign Country

5 March 2021

Sabba Khan bravely and brightly steps into the vortex of her multi-hyphenated identity to give us this razor-sharp, resilient and generous view of what it means to believe, belong and breathe within spaces that are designed to keep you out. The Roles We Play comes from a place where all astonishing art originates: deep self-interrogation and radical empathy.

South Asian Writers, South Asian Heritage Month

21 December 2020

During #SouthAsianHeritageMonth, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with architectural designer and artist, @sabbakhanart.

We spoke about life, love, impostor syndrome, identity, belonging, and her upcoming debut graphic novel, #TheRolesWePlay (@myriad_editions, 2021)

I've been a bit of a fan of Sabba's work for some time now. I love the way she is able to weave in themes of fracture and discord around aspects of her culture without revoking any affection and pride for her roots. Her art remains a constant testament and love letter to her heritage. A beautiful thing, indeed.

Head to to watch our interview (🌟#linkinbio🌟) We were so at ease with one another, it just felt like two old friends talking the day away.

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