(Zahra’s Paradise) | February 19, 2010
So a Persian writer, an Arab artist and a Jewish editor walk into a room…
Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. Actually, that’s something like the start of this unusual editorial adventure, the first of its kind. Here for your reading pleasure is an online, serial webcomic in English, Farsi, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch—with more joining on the horizon. First Second books proudly presents Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil, together with Casterman in French and Dutch, Rizzoli Lizard in Italian, and Norma Editorial in Spanish.
Set in the aftermath of Iran’s fraudulent elections of 2009, Zahra’s Paradise is the fictional story of the search for Mehdi, a young protestor who has disappeared in the Islamic Republic’s gulags. Mehdi has vanished in an extrajudicial twilight zone where habeas corpus is suspended. What stops his memory from being obliterated is not the law. It is the grit and guts of a mother who refuses to surrender her son to fate and the tenacity of a brother—a blogger—who fuses culture and technology to explore and explode absence: the void in which Mehdi has vanished.
Zahra’s Paradise weaves together a composite of real people and events. As the world witnessed what could no longer be kept from view, through YouTube videos, on Twitter and in blogs, so this story came to be and had to be told.
The author Amir is an Iranian-American human rights activist, journalist and documentary filmmaker. He has lived and worked in the United States, Canada, Europe and Afghanistan. His essays and articles have appeared far and wide in the press.
Khalil’s work as a fine artist has been much praised. He sculpts and creates ceramics and has been cartooning since he was very young. Zahra’s Paradise is his first graphic novel.
Amir and Khalil have long dreamed up projects together, but Zahra’s Paradise draws on their talents as though they’ve been preparing for it all their lives—and through it, they answer the calling of their times.
The authors have chosen anonymity for obvious political reasons.