Justice | Critical Book Review

Justice by Ram Khatri immerses readers in the turbulent era of the Nepali Civil War, offering a unique narrative through the lens of a perceptive child. While Tucker Lieberman praises its educational value, the critical exploration of this indie graphic novel unveils both its merits and intricacies.


A Tale Unfolding: War and Its Subtle Impact

The graphic novel unfolds against the backdrop of the 10-year civil conflict in Nepal, providing a historical fiction experience that is both visually rich and emotionally charged. The lush illustrations bring to life the idyllic Himalayan farm, where the story begins, and seamlessly guide readers through the family’s humble abode.

Contrary to expectations for a war-themed narrative, the physical violence remains implicit, allowing the narrative to focus on the transformative effects of war on one girl’s life. Tara’s journey becomes a vehicle for exploring the broader implications of political upheaval on ordinary lives.


Rural Life Disrupted: A Family’s Struggle

The story introduces a rural Nepali family, content in their simple life of farming and reliance on a single radio for daily news. As the civil war erupts in 1996, the family’s tranquility is shattered. The Maoist revolutionaries disrupt their lives, accusing the father of exploitation and demanding an end to farming without offering any viable alternatives. Tara, the middle child, grapples with the sudden change, realizing that the world is turning against her family.


Duality in Narrative: Two Perspectives, One Story

A distinctive feature of Justice is its dual narrative structure. The 40-page tale is presented twice, with Sandipan Santra illustrating the first iteration and Ingrid Lilamani handling the second. Khatri’s decision to showcase different perspectives adds layers to the storytelling. The repetition, presented in color and then in black-and-white, mirrors the concept of memory as a variation on a theme. This artistic choice also alludes to the challenges of translation, as the characters speak Nepali, emphasizing the cultural nuances through a glossary of Nepali terms.


Unraveling the Threads: Retrospection and Anticipation

Tara narrates the story in 2009, providing a retrospective lens that adds a layer of anticipation. The family’s eventual move to another village in Central Nepal is foreshadowed from the outset, but crucial details leading to this decision remain obscured. Both sections conclude with a cryptic “To be continued!” promising further exploration of Tara’s grief and regret in an upcoming sequel.


Conclusion: Artistic Exploration of a Complex History

Justice emerges as an artistic and character-driven exploration of the recent history of the Nepali civil war. Khatri’s narrative captures the complexity of an internal conflict, shedding light on the gradual encroachment of war on a peaceful village. Through Tara’s eyes, readers grapple with the forces that reshape her world. The novel’s meticulous attention to detail serves as a valuable conduit for understanding the profound impact of historical events on individual lives.


Publisher, Genre, Print Length, ISBN

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
Restart PublishingHistorical Fiction / Graphic Novel88 pages978-1737755227

Justice by Ram Khatri immerses readers in the turbulent era of the Nepali Civil War, offering a unique narrative through the lens of a perceptive child. While Tucker Lieberman praises its educational value, the critical exploration of this indie graphic novel unveils both its merits and intricacies. A Tale Unfolding: War and Its Subtle Impact…