Zahra’s Paradise, a new book from FirstSecond, collects in one volume the serialized (and brilliant) webcomic, written by two pseudonymous Iranian dissidents. It’s the gripping story of a Medhi, a young man kidnapped by Iran’s secret police during the election-season demonstrations of 2009, and it is a heart-rending tale of loss, hope, technology, revolution, politics, bravery and resilience. Told form the point of view of Medhi’s blogger brother (who has previously been arrested for publishing political material), it features an in-the-round look at the power and limits of technology to effect revolution. Its cast includes bloggers, secret policemen, brave copy-shop/Internet cafe owners, influence peddlers, disgraced bourgeois, broken prisoners and a family devastated by loss.
And while Zahra’s Paradise is an informative (if fictionalized) account of the Iranian election uprising and a vivid condemnation of the stern, joyless Khomeniest version of Islam, it is also a fantastic story, a graphic novel that races to its conclusion. The webcomic was serialized in 12 languages (including Farsi and Arabic) and the print edition is available in a dozen countries from today.