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At the age of seven, Zahra Marwan left her home in Kuwait’s desert by the sea for a new home in New Mexico’s desert by the mountains. Her family was forced to leave when laws deemed that anyone without patrilineal Kuwaiti citizenship was living in the country illegally. “Three of my grandparents were citizens of Kuwait, but my dad’s dad wasn’t,” she says. Despite having been born there, Marwan’s father never applied for citizenship, rendering his children stateless and at risk of discrimination or worse. An Albuquerque fine artist whose work is displayed at Santa Fe’s Hecho Gallery, Marwan released her debut children’s book, Where Butterflies Fill the Sky (Bloomsbury Children’s Books), in March 2022. In it, she uses whimsical watercolor illustrations and short, potent prose to convey the confusion, loss, and innocent wonder she felt as a young immigrant—and the New York Timesselected it as one of the best illustrated children’s books of the year. Her second book, The Sunflower (Feiwel & Friends), is expected in the fall.

 

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