By Karina Shor

Silence, Full Stop. cover.
Silence, Full Stop.

This month of November my book Silence, Full Stop is coming out. For me, this is a wrap of years of having the stories from my childhood and coming of age impatiently nagging my brain to come out. As the date approaches, I feel like I can finally give my story a rest as it becomes everyone’s and not just my own. 

I’m Karina Shor – a name I have given myself to distance the feeling of fear and the need to silence myself from telling a painful truth. I felt as though I needed to become somebody else to be brave enough to tell about myself. Nothing aside from the names in the book was made up. Everything was taken word for word from my diaries growing up, or how I remember things went. When I was a six-year-old kid, I met a pedophile, after this traumatic encounter I was told not to tell. The building blocks of my post traumatic reaction, silence and shame, were given to me by family and society. Neither knew how to handle it then, and both sadly still have issues with that. As a kid, I used to imagine this silence as a big brick wall inside of me, like a border between me and anything good in my life. As I grew older, it became harder and harder to hold this on my own, so I used to tell strangers about it. When I did – it felt like a brick would be removed from that wall. Now, as my book enters the world, I feel like each book is one of those bricks, and I can finally see the light coming in. 

My story is far from unique in its essence. A lot of autobiographical graphic novels written by women are essentially stories of overcoming rape and sexual abuse. It makes me so angry to know that this is our most shared experience to date. This is a sad reminder that even in 2023, one in three women (globally!) will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. (That’s according to the World Health Organization, and every other book written by a woman). 

I believe that women’s stories are important to read after a history of cultural oppression and our lives being told from the outsider’s male perspective. I’m proud to present to you just a fraction of voices I admire, and to say that this is the evidence that women will never be silenced again. I believe that when we control our own stories, we have the strength to control how they affect us. We seize being a victim, and come to our power. 

Karina Shor: My New York Diary by Julie Doucet.

Julie Doucet’s My New York Diary is the first graphic autobiographical novel I’ve ever read. This diary-like collection of stories brings us to Julie’s experiences with drugs and sexual misconduct set in the 80’s as a young newcomer to NY. Reading this book was when I understood that my stories have a place in the world. 

Karina Shor: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is my most recommended read about the Islamic revolution in Iran, told from the eyes of a girl that grows up beside it. For me, as an Israeli who has watched her entire country protest against its most religious and fundamentalist regime to date, and then go into this current war with Gaza, it reads like a too-real cautionary tale of my crippling reality. 

Karina Shor: Becoming Unbecoming by Una.

Becoming Unbecoming by Una, is a must read for any person calling themselves a feminist. In my opinion, this book has the most accurate description of how sexual trauma can be magnified by society’s ignorance around it. 

Karina Shor: Ducks by Kate Beaton.

Ducks by Kate Beaton is a sweeping tale of the mundane life in the oil sands of Canada, told from personal experience of a woman in a male dominated world and all that it sadly implies. The story’s subtlety is its power. 

Karina Shor: Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol is a beautiful tale of a Russian immigrant teen, and her quest to belong with her peers in her new home in the United States, as well as with her Russian peers in summer camp – and the glorious failures around it. 

Karina Shor: Are You My Mother? By Alison Bechdel.

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel takes the form of a graphic novel that’s being written in front of our eyes, with all the thought process that goes into writing about Alison’s mother. It is so thorough in its description of how the artist’s restless mind works. I related and enjoyed the sophisticated and masterful writing. 

I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharie.

I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib is a funny account of a girl trying to understand her Phillipino-Egyptian identity growing up in America. I think it’s a story that every immigrant can relate to. 

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? By Roz Chast.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. Reading this novel, I laughed out loud, and I cried. Roz draws a beautiful goodbye to her parents as they enter their final stage of life. It’s so honest and relatable and made me think of my own parents and the unavoidable future we all so diligently avoid talking about. 

Nervosa by Hayley Gold

Nervosa by Hayley Gold is an honest account of Haley’s struggle with anorexia, while unveiling the healthcare system’s problems around it – as well as the ignorance of her father about her delicate situation and his responsibility to it. The word “brave” describes it best.

Karina Shor is an illustrator, a cartoonist, and a teaching artist. Karina has illustrated many children’s books under the name Alina Gorban, but Silence, Full Stop is her debut as an author. She grew up in a small town outside of Tel Aviv, Israel, after she immigrated from the former Soviet Union. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, and now lives between Brooklyn, New York and Tel Aviv, Israel.