The excellent blog Arabic Literature (in English) turned me on to this site. It is a graphic novel about the aftermath of the Iranian election in 2009. Written by a Persian (American) writer, an Arab artist and a Jewish editor it and “Zahra’s Paradise weaves together a composite of real people and events.” It comes out Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in installments of one four to six page panel, which in itself I like. There is something about stories that are published serially that makes the experience of reading them interesting. There are only a few installments, so it is a little difficult to tell how good it is going to be, but a first read it is interesting. I’ll be curious to see how the art evolves, if at all during the run. I imagine it is a difficult task to create the same characters week after week in the same style.
Zahra’s Paradise isn’t just a cemetery where the world comes to an end. It’s also a womb, a garden, where the world is reborn. Sure, Neda is dead, Sohrab is dead, Mohsen is dead, and they’re all buried in Zahra’s Paradise. But just as there is death, so there is life and light bursting out of their shadow. Their virtual reflection, wrapped as fictional characters, allows us to raise our own imaginary army to intervene in history in real time.
Zahra’s Paradise is a wall drawn around the constitution of Iran’s children. Initially, I wanted to avoid grief by taking refuge in farce. The events in Iran, the protests, broke through. Every day, we’d catch glimpses of Iran’s youth (anyone under eighty), their faith, dreams, courage and cool, breaking out through an electronic wall. But their story appeared as fragments scattered across the face of time. Zahra’s Paradise is the garden where we’ve tried to piece together the fragments, and put a name and face to the story. Mehdi.