cover image An Iranian Metamorphosis

An Iranian Metamorphosis

Mana Neyestani. Uncivilized (Consortium, dist.), $19.99 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-9889014-4-5

In this riveting real-life tale, Iranian cartoonist Neyestani ignites political violence when a drawing of a cockroach in one of his cartoons is misinterpreted as a gross insult to the Azeri, an ethnic group within Iran. Neyestani, who uses Kafka as a reference point, is plunged into a nightmare as bizarre as Gregor Samsa’s; he and his editor are hauled in for questioning by the authoritarian government and subjected to five months of solitary confinement in a featureless cell. Neyestani’s days of incarceration turn the innocent cartoonist into a nervous wreck as he is repeatedly interrogated and asked for information on other cartoonists who pose a political threat. A temporary release reunites Neyestani to his loving wife, but with his return to prison looming, they prepare to flee to Canada. The cartoonist metamorphoses from a creative member of society to a gaunt fugitive. From the opening panel, Neyestani’s account of his personal ordeal masterfully conveys tension with a dense, cross-hatched style that powerfully evokes the claustrophobia of his imprisonment, and the lasting mental effects of his senseless persecution. Agent: Nicholas Grivel. (Oct.)