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Can a cartoon cause riots? It seems unbelievable but for Mana Neyestani it's true. One of his cartoons sparked riots, shuttered the newspaper Neyestani worked for, and landed the cartoonist and his editor in solitary confinement inside of Iran's notorious prison system. Neyestani's story, which can only be described as Kafkaesque, is vividly brought to life in An Iranian M Can a cartoon cause riots? It seems unbelievable but for Mana Neyestani it's true. One of his cartoons sparked riots, shuttered the newspaper Neyestani worked for, and landed the cartoonist and his editor in solitary confinement inside of Iran's notorious prison system. Neyestani's story, which can only be described as Kafkaesque, is vividly brought to life in An Iranian Metamorphosis. Mana Neyestani (b. 1973 in Tehran) is an Iranian cartoonist and illustrator for economic, intellectual, political, cultural, and professional magazines. He is particularly known for his work for the newspaper Zan and Persian language Radio Zamaneh. He is the recipient of the 2010 Cartoonists Rights Network International Courage Award in editorial cartooning.


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Can a cartoon cause riots? It seems unbelievable but for Mana Neyestani it's true. One of his cartoons sparked riots, shuttered the newspaper Neyestani worked for, and landed the cartoonist and his editor in solitary confinement inside of Iran's notorious prison system. Neyestani's story, which can only be described as Kafkaesque, is vividly brought to life in An Iranian M Can a cartoon cause riots? It seems unbelievable but for Mana Neyestani it's true. One of his cartoons sparked riots, shuttered the newspaper Neyestani worked for, and landed the cartoonist and his editor in solitary confinement inside of Iran's notorious prison system. Neyestani's story, which can only be described as Kafkaesque, is vividly brought to life in An Iranian Metamorphosis. Mana Neyestani (b. 1973 in Tehran) is an Iranian cartoonist and illustrator for economic, intellectual, political, cultural, and professional magazines. He is particularly known for his work for the newspaper Zan and Persian language Radio Zamaneh. He is the recipient of the 2010 Cartoonists Rights Network International Courage Award in editorial cartooning.

30 review for An Iranian Metamorphosis

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    Could a cartoon spark riots? One published in the children's section of the paper at that? Well, the modern reader is all too aware of how badly things can go for the artists and their publisher when some people take offense. This is a wonderfully illustrated graphic memoir with a strong narrative arc, and the black and white art captures well the bleakness of the story. The author is an Iranian cartoonist, and when his cartoons do in fact start a demonstration, his life takes a Kafkaesque turn. Could a cartoon spark riots? One published in the children's section of the paper at that? Well, the modern reader is all too aware of how badly things can go for the artists and their publisher when some people take offense. This is a wonderfully illustrated graphic memoir with a strong narrative arc, and the black and white art captures well the bleakness of the story. The author is an Iranian cartoonist, and when his cartoons do in fact start a demonstration, his life takes a Kafkaesque turn. One does not need to be turned into an insect for life to become horrifying and unrecognizable after all. This memoir is the story of what happened to the author, and is a stark portrayal of life under a totalitarian regime, especially for those who criticize it. The news often tells stories from a foreigners point of view, and I loved that this one is told from an insider perspective.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ѦѺ™

    while working on his next cartoon for the children's pages of Iran Jomeh, Mana Neyestani was inspired by the lowly cockroach. little did he know at that time that drawing this common household pest would turn his world upside down and forever change his life. riots ensue in the Azeri provinces due to the "innocuous" cartoon and the Iranian government's miltiia is mobilized to curtail the spreading violence. as a result, Mana, together with his editor-in-chief Mehrad Ghasemfar, is sent to the noto while working on his next cartoon for the children's pages of Iran Jomeh, Mana Neyestani was inspired by the lowly cockroach. little did he know at that time that drawing this common household pest would turn his world upside down and forever change his life. riots ensue in the Azeri provinces due to the "innocuous" cartoon and the Iranian government's miltiia is mobilized to curtail the spreading violence. as a result, Mana, together with his editor-in-chief Mehrad Ghasemfar, is sent to the notorious Evin prison. as the days wore on, they are subjected to solitary confinement and interrogations. Mana's sleep is punctuated with lucid nightmares and he experiences auditory hallucinations. both men also meet other inmates whose crimes far outweigh that which Mana and Mehrad have been charged with. one day, the cartoonist and his editor are surprised when they are temporarily released. reunited with his wife Mansoureh and the rest of his family, Mana makes good use of his time to plan an escape. Mana's unpretentious illustrations are rendered in black and white. they leap at the reader, conveying Mana's harrowing experiences in all its stark details. some have the appearance of an editorial cartoon to depict Iran's judicial and prison systems. some are glimpses into a husband and wife's private moments. some are quite disturbing but i have seen worse. a few show humor as if to mask the horror behind the truth. yet the overall message is still clear - that of a desperate man forced to take steps to ensure his freedom and that of his loved one. today, Mana is free albeit living in exile with his wife in France. he still continues to draw and master his craft and to inform the world about his birth country's political situation. true stories like that of Mana's, though hard for me to take in, are close to my heart. his version takes place in Iran and beyond its borders but it is no different from those stories i have read about or heard first-hand when i worked for a non-profit organization that helped process and prepare thousands of Indo-Chinese refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos for permanent resettlement in the United States and Europe. looking back then and after reading Mana's story now, i continue to pay homage to all the men, women and children who made it to freedom and lived to tell their tales. i grieve for those who did not. *i received a copy for review from Edelweiss

  3. 4 out of 5

    soleil

    Not so much like the Metamorphosis than “the Trial.” I was very interested in the story & the tension was always high. I’m not very much into his drawing style, but I’m glad I got to read this for class. Not so much like the Metamorphosis than “the Trial.” I was very interested in the story & the tension was always high. I’m not very much into his drawing style, but I’m glad I got to read this for class.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    4.5 stars - An exceptional graphic memoir by Neyestani, an Iranian cartoonist whose cartoons featured in a children's publication landed him in a prison nightmare worthy of Kafka. While Kafka's Metamorphosis is a clear inspiration for this graphic novel, it is in not heavily derivative of that work. Neyestani instead creates something with a hint of the bizarre, yet very personal, unique and moving. Seek this out! (This is the English translation from Uncivilized Books.)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Roxane

    This read was for the 2012 Around the World in 12 Books Reading Challenge hosted by Shannon at Giraffe Days (July: Iran) One note on the French edition though: the copyright page says that it was translated from the English translation produced by Ghasal Mosadecq. That being said, I've searched on line for an English translation of this amazing and enlightening graphic novel and couldn't find one so perhaps it was never actually published in English. If so, that's a real shame and I really do hop This read was for the 2012 Around the World in 12 Books Reading Challenge hosted by Shannon at Giraffe Days (July: Iran) One note on the French edition though: the copyright page says that it was translated from the English translation produced by Ghasal Mosadecq. That being said, I've searched on line for an English translation of this amazing and enlightening graphic novel and couldn't find one so perhaps it was never actually published in English. If so, that's a real shame and I really do hope that an English language publisher is going to pick this up very soon. Mana Neyestani's graphic novel is autobiographic. Neyestani was born in Tehran in 1973. He started his career as a cartoonist working in different cultural and political magazines. He soon became cataloged as a political cartoonist and had to turn to drawing for children in order not to draw to much unwanted attention from governmental authorities. He thought he was safe. He was unfortunately wrong. In 2006, Neyestani drew a cockroach in one of his cartoons. The drawing was unfortunately taken out of its context and interpreted as being an insult to the Azeri ethnic group which occupies the northern part of Iran and consist of people of Turkish descent. This group is often the target of insults from Iranians and so the government was only to happy to blame the subsequent riots, material damage and deaths on Neyestani's drawing. Neyestani and his editor-in-chief were soon arrested and taken to the Evin prison, even though they hadn't actually broken any law. An Iranian Metamorphosis is the tale of the events that lead to this arrest, as well as Neyestani's time in jail and his attempts at clearing his name, ending up with him and his wife seeking political refuge in a Western country. Neyestani and his wife, Mansoureh, now live in France but this took some time and the French government (as well as other European and Western governments) didn't initially help them get out of Iran despite the threat of more time in prison for Neyestani, death threats and the implication of Iranian secret services. It is frustrating of course to see how slow Western bureaucracy is and how in the end, it made it impossible for Neyestani and his wife to get out of the country through legal means. They had to resort to dealing with a smuggler who was meant to guarantee them and other Iranians safe passage to a European country because no embassy accepted to grant them the status of political refugees in time! In the end, nothing goes smoothly and it's a long, difficult and stressful process that finally led them to France. But imagine the pain of never being able to go back to your country, the pain of not really being able to say goodbye to your loved ones because they had to keep their escape secret. What's beautiful is that Neyestani and his wife stayed together and united throughout the whole ordeal. While they did contemplate splitting up for a moment because they didn't have enough money for them to both make their way to Canada, they decided to go as far as Europe instead if that meant they could stay together. Neyestani's wife, Mansoureh, helps him every step of the way. She's portrayed making phone calls, chasing embassies and political organizations, dealing with the smuggler among other things. Neyestani makes Mansoureh a central character to his story and there are a few scenes where the stress of the situation gets to them and they snap at one another but then quickly apologize. I thought it was brilliant to have included these short domestic scenes in the tale. They helped ground the story in reality and make it clear that this is something happening to real people, to a real couple that behaves like any couple. An Iranian Metamorphosis is not a dry account of autobiographical events. In fact, there are quite a few humorous scenes and the recurrence of the cockroach and references to Kafka is both tragic and comic, rendering the entire work sarcastic. This is after all the story of a man being forced into exile because he drew a cockroach in a children's cartoon! This was a fascinating and enlightening read on so many levels. As an outsider, there's a great deal to learn about Iran in this graphic novel. First of, while it seems pretty obvious that it would be the case, I didn't know that there were different ethnic groups and that some were regarded as lesser than others. Also, while this is only brushed on, there are quite a few allusions to brutal and violent "interrogation techniques" shall we call them. It's fortunate for Neyestani that he didn't have to go experience any, but honestly the solitary confinement he and his editor-in-chief had to go through seemed horrible enough as it was. You also get a nice insight of Iranian legal procedures and processes. It doesn't inspire much trust to be quite honest and it definitely gives the impression that this is a country best not to be arrested in. I would really recommend this graphic novel, not just to graphic novel readers. I think this is one of those reads that worth getting out of your comfort zone to experience.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Stumbled across this book in the library and I'm very glad I did. This is a graphic memoir by an Iranian cartoonist, Mana Neyestani. He used to publish cartoons in the children's section of an Iranian newspaper until 2006, when he published a cartoon with a cockroach in it. In the cartoon, he used an Azerbaijani word in the cartoon. Because of this one work in the cartoon with a cockroach, there was rioting, because the Azerbaijani's thought he was implying that they were cockroaches. This lead Stumbled across this book in the library and I'm very glad I did. This is a graphic memoir by an Iranian cartoonist, Mana Neyestani. He used to publish cartoons in the children's section of an Iranian newspaper until 2006, when he published a cartoon with a cockroach in it. In the cartoon, he used an Azerbaijani word in the cartoon. Because of this one work in the cartoon with a cockroach, there was rioting, because the Azerbaijani's thought he was implying that they were cockroaches. This lead to his imprisonment. This book is a memoir of what lead up to his imprisonment, his time and prison and what happened after. Very interesting book. It is well written and drawings are great!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jez

    This memoir of how unintentionality can lead to civil unrest, imprisonment, and the perpetrator to seek asylum is an entertaining, quick read. However, while it is not best practice to fault someone for past wrongs if they come to terms with them in a critical manner, Neyestani cast a lot of stereotypes upon a multitude of groups, which bothered me. The most fleeting and powerful was his African refugee imagery. Neyestani featured the refugees on only two separate pages, but they were the only p This memoir of how unintentionality can lead to civil unrest, imprisonment, and the perpetrator to seek asylum is an entertaining, quick read. However, while it is not best practice to fault someone for past wrongs if they come to terms with them in a critical manner, Neyestani cast a lot of stereotypes upon a multitude of groups, which bothered me. The most fleeting and powerful was his African refugee imagery. Neyestani featured the refugees on only two separate pages, but they were the only people in the entire novel who didn't have a named country of origin, and he drew them in caricature.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emilia P

    A political cartoonist is jailed, at length, for his views and recounts his experience. I remember feeling like this was compelling but also a bit self-congratulatory for something that...like everyone around him was also going through, rather than reflecting on the experience in its context. But so it is. Also - the barely legal (maybe just illegal) way he worked to seek asylum was pretty fascinating.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Garrett Jackson

    I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It draws a pretty clear parallel with Kafka’s Metamorphosis (if you couldn’t guess from the title, but with drawn out processes and bureaucracy like The Trial. The symbolism in this is powerful and gives you a glimpse into the life of this cartoonist imprisoned for a comic strip he wrote in the children’s section of an Iranian newspaper.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Thomas

    I was expecting a simple retelling of The Metamorphosis, but instead it's a Kafkaesque autobiography about a cartoonist's time in and subsequent escape from the Iranian judicial system. He publishes a cartoon in a children's magazine that accidentally insults the ethnic Azeris, leading to his arrest as a political prisoner. The art is superb, and the fear and frustration is palpable.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    A page turner romantic story about the writer's life. The comic drawings are imaginative and sucked me in. The book could take me into strange places like the Evin prison or a hotel in Malasia where the guests were all Iranians looking for a new passport.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Complex, intense, and interesting. Raises a lot of thought-provoking issues.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carol Tilley

    Am insider's look at the Kafkaesque Iranian justice system and life as a refugee.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Blue

    I met Mana Neyestani at the Brooklyn Book Festival a few weeks ago. When I said I met him, I mean I said hi, he said hi sheepishly and smiled, and drew an awesome cartoon by way of signing the book for me. He did not really say anything else to me, and I sensed that he was terrified. At the time, I thought he was just tired, jet lagged, insecure in his English, etc. Little did I know that he could have actually been extremely terrified when I told Tom Kaczynski (the founder of the publisher, who I met Mana Neyestani at the Brooklyn Book Festival a few weeks ago. When I said I met him, I mean I said hi, he said hi sheepishly and smiled, and drew an awesome cartoon by way of signing the book for me. He did not really say anything else to me, and I sensed that he was terrified. At the time, I thought he was just tired, jet lagged, insecure in his English, etc. Little did I know that he could have actually been extremely terrified when I told Tom Kaczynski (the founder of the publisher, who introduced Mr. Neyestani to me) "I'm a Turk." The graphic memoir of Mana Neyestani's cartoon disaster that lead to his imprisonment and illegal immigration out of Iran is captivating. Neyestani's drawings are realistic and detailed with expressive faces and panels that make the story flow seamlessly. The story is timeless, sad, and universal. One problem I had in the book was the fact that the reason why Azeris (who apparently call themselves "Turks" in Iran, and are referred to as such by government officials and general public in the memoir) would get so upset about Neyestani's cartoon was not very clear. When I looked it up, I learned that the cartoon drawing (of the boy trying to communicate with a cockroach) was accompanied with an article which really reads like an allegorical story. Sadly, in this allegory, some unidentified peoples would be cockroaches, with whom communication is "difficult," claiming they do not understand even their own language. The word used by the cockroach in the cartoon is apparently of Azeri origin, used often in Iranian (Persian) dialog to mean "what?" So the combination of a cockroach using an Azeri word and the text accompanying the cartoon with ominous undertones was the spark that got the Azeri riots going. Clearly, if the Azeri ethnicity was already comfortable and happy in Iran, this cartoon and article would not have such an effect (I dare speculate...) But apparently there was already a lot of discontent with the Iranian government among the Azeris, so this was just a good excuse (I do not mean to belittle any hurt or offense any Azeris might have felt here) to spill out onto the streets and protest the government with regards to its treatment of the minorities. So I learned all this from the internet (so take it with a grain of salt), but I felt that the memoir was not really clear about how the cartoon drawing was involved (there are attempts to explaining it, like the word is an Azeri word, etc. but there is not mention of the text that accompanied the cartoon). It is difficult to believe, reading a summary of what the article said and a translation into English along with seeing the cartoon, that someone somewhere in editorial did NOT mean anything by it. In countries like Iran (like my own, Turkey), things like this can and will lead to the press being scrutinized, pressured, imprisoned, even assassinated. It is funny that the first thing I noticed in the Wikipedia article was that Neyestani was identified as an "ethnic Iranian Azeri." The memoir details how this came about, and I find it hilarious. Another thing that I found funny was that he is quoted as having said that he has many Azeri friends, whom he had no desire or reason to insult (perhaps a universal joke, like "I'm not racist. I have lots of black friends." or "I am not homophobic. I have lots of gay friends.") What is very interesting is that he is quoted to comment on the origins of words in Persian (I find that Iranians are, deservedly, very proud of their cultural heritage, including their language, so perhaps this acknowledgement that their perfect and rich language has adopted words from other languages [I dare say, languages that are considered inferior] could have caused offense to some Iranians... Interestingly, most of my Iranian friends adore French, and I wonder how it is to live in France, where most [educated, perhaps conservative] French will have the same sort of attitude towards Persian (French being the most supreme language on Earth, of course...) as some Iranians have towards languages like Azeri. In the end, Neyestani's graphic memoir is a sad reminder of how unfair life can be. He has lived to tell the tale, which makes one wonder about those who have not been so lucky. And the many millions in the world who are trying to flee the unfortunate situations in their homelands to safer places. And though I consider him lucky, Mr. Neyestani might have a very different take on his situation; after all, he had to flee his own land, his own country, his own family, under very stressful and dangerous conditions, and now lives far away from the place he surely loved or still loves. And Mr. Neyestani, next time you are in Ankara or Istanbul, let me know, and we will try to rectify the wrongs of the horrific stay you had there during your escape from Iran!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    A cartoonist for a newspaper geared towards children in Iran, Neyestani drew a cartoon featuring a cockroach speaking an Azeri word – which is used to mean “what?” in Iranian Persian – in 2006 and ended up in one of Iran’s notorious secret jails. Such a sentence seems surprisingly harsh, but the Iranian government charged Neyestani with working against the state after the Azerbaijani minority rioted over the image and needed to demonstrate they are doing something to appease the concerns of the A cartoonist for a newspaper geared towards children in Iran, Neyestani drew a cartoon featuring a cockroach speaking an Azeri word – which is used to mean “what?” in Iranian Persian – in 2006 and ended up in one of Iran’s notorious secret jails. Such a sentence seems surprisingly harsh, but the Iranian government charged Neyestani with working against the state after the Azerbaijani minority rioted over the image and needed to demonstrate they are doing something to appease the concerns of the minority group. While Neyestani escapes the horrendous torture associated with Iran’s prison system (which he rather tongue-in-cheek admits would have made for a more interesting story), he is detained indefinitely and temporary placed in solitary confinement. The lawyer hired to represent him by the newspaper is both unwilling to go up against the Iranian judicial system (if you can call it that) and subservient to the newspaper owner’s interest – utterly prepared to use Neyestani as a scapegoat to save their own hides. Unexpectedly and temporarily released, Neyestani and his wife made plans to flee from Iran hoping they would be granted asylum on freedom of the press grounds by a European embassy or a country in North America. Yet each embassy rejected their application citing a lack of publicity around Neyestani’s case and, fearing a return to Iran would mean certain jail time or death at the hands of the Azerbaijani minority, Neyestani and his wife hired a smuggler to move them through Dubai, Turkey, Malaysia and China to freedom in France throwing them both into the uncertain and treacherous life of illegal migrants. The story ultimately presented in this graphic memoir was not at all the one I expected when I selected the book off the shelf, but I found the story of illegal migration to be particularly poignant given recent events. If there is anyone you would expect to qualify for asylum, it would be Neyestani and yet doors – both legal and illegal – were repeatedly closed to him and his wife. Neyestani’s hostility towards himself because of the role his seemingly innocent art played in their displacement was well-captured in how often he tries to squash the cockroach. But he does not devote very many panels to how life in asylum limbo affected his relationship with his wife, Mansoureh, which I thought was a rather odd choice. Whether this was because he wanted to protect her privacy or because he felt the memoir should focus solely on him, I cannot say. But for someone who is presented as taking an active role in their escape, she does appear very much so as a secondary or even tertiary character. However, I did particularly like how he presented the idiocy of the Iranian prison system, which transferred him and a coworker under false names and stories out of the worst of the prison’s divisions to prevent them from being targeted by Azerbaijanis in jail. Forgetting – by choice or by stupidity – how the courtyard of the minimum security division looks right at the entrance to the other division so everyone already knew who they were. And, overall, the memoir offers a window into a world really only referenced rather than explored by the news media. The comics, themselves, are black and white drawings in nature without very many hidden stories within each panel other than the cockroach occasionally lurking in the background. It reminded me a bit of Zeina Abirached and Marjane Satrapi’s style so now I’m wondering if this a common style for cartoonists from this region of the world.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shellie (Layers of Thought)

    Original review by John is posted at Layers of Thought. A wonderful autobiographical graphic novel detailing the Kafkaesque story of Iranian cartoonist Mana Neyestani, as he goes from idealistic writer, to detainee in the feared Iranian prison system, to homeless fugitive and refugee. John’s description: Neyestani was a children’s cartoonist working for an Iranian newspaper. Despite the increasingly radical nature of the government he felt safe as he contributed to the leisure section of the paper Original review by John is posted at Layers of Thought. A wonderful autobiographical graphic novel detailing the Kafkaesque story of Iranian cartoonist Mana Neyestani, as he goes from idealistic writer, to detainee in the feared Iranian prison system, to homeless fugitive and refugee. John’s description: Neyestani was a children’s cartoonist working for an Iranian newspaper. Despite the increasingly radical nature of the government he felt safe as he contributed to the leisure section of the paper and not the political section. But one of his innocent cartoons inadvertently sparks tensions with some Azerbaijanis in the Islamic Republic, who feel insulted as a cockroach in the story uses an Azeri word. In a tense political climate, tensions lead to demonstrations lead to riots, and the Iranian government needs someone to blame. Neyestani and his editor are called in for questioning. After a Kafkaesque series of events they find themselves detained indefinitely in Iran’s horrendous prison system and then placed in solitary confinement. Eventually he is unexpectedly released – albeit on a temporary basis. Fearing for his future, Neyestani and his wife flee the country and travel through Dubai, Turkey, Malaysia and China, trying to find some form of freedom and a place they can call home. But they find life as refugees with no legal status is almost as stressful as the life they have left behind. John’s thoughts: This is a powerful and eye-opening story, that is told with the help of some excellent illustrations and plenty of dark humor. You get an insider’s view of some of the complex political, cultural, ethnic and authoritarian issues within the Islamic Republic – and it is not a pretty picture. Neyestani is put through an absurd series of events, and throughout the story draws some parallel’s with Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, even using a cockroach as a theme that runs through the story. He goes through his own transformation from a young easy-going idealistic writer, to a beleaguered and downtrodden prisoner, to a fearful and anxious fugitive. The absurdities are almost hilarious; but this really happened. I’d rate this book four stars and thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes intense autobiographies or who wants to better understand what it is like to live in a radical and authoritarian state. And don’t be put off by the fact that this is a graphic novel – I think that the format actually allowed the author to enhance the story-telling.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mandana Fard

    I loved it! "An Iranian Metamorphosis" is a graphic novel by Mana Neyestani, a very talented Iranian cartoonist. He has published several fictional comic books in the past 15 years around a character named Mr Ka, but in this book Mana tells his own story, which amazingly has a lot in common with the story of Mr Ka. After years of working with reformist and opposition newspapers in Iran, and witnessing them getting shut down one by one by the government, Mana decides to work for a children's publi I loved it! "An Iranian Metamorphosis" is a graphic novel by Mana Neyestani, a very talented Iranian cartoonist. He has published several fictional comic books in the past 15 years around a character named Mr Ka, but in this book Mana tells his own story, which amazingly has a lot in common with the story of Mr Ka. After years of working with reformist and opposition newspapers in Iran, and witnessing them getting shut down one by one by the government, Mana decides to work for a children's publication. It sounds like a more stable and less risky job far from politics, right? Wrong! A seemingly harmless cartoon lands him in jail and changes his life forever. He ends up fleeing Iran and going from country to country for asylum, and through the book we witness the whole story. We go with him from his office to his home and from Evin prison to Turkey's asylum camp and to the United Arab Emirates and China. The story is very well written and although there are multiple plots, it is easy to follow. I for one couldn't put down the book when I started reading it. The illustrations are beautiful and powerful in Mana's black and white signature style. His work usually stands out but in this book he is at the top of his game. In the illustrations he moves freely between what he saw and how he felt, and chooses different angles and perspectives as it suits his narrative. The book is Mana Neyestani's story and at the same time it is the story of a generation of young Iranians who had no choice but to leave their whole life and their country behind. It sounds a bit sad when I put it this way, but the story is anything but sad. It's a rather inspiring true story.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Anne

    Comic artist Neyestani describes how drawing a bug in a children's cartoon got him arrested for supposedly stirring up violence between Iranians and Turks. Interrogations, prison life, and bureaucratic red tape make Neyestani and his wife miserable for months, and when the cartoonist is released on a ten-day pass, the couple decides to flee the country. Getting out of Iran, however, proves to be a lot more trouble than they'd bargained for. Aside from a tangent about a Chinese passport official, Comic artist Neyestani describes how drawing a bug in a children's cartoon got him arrested for supposedly stirring up violence between Iranians and Turks. Interrogations, prison life, and bureaucratic red tape make Neyestani and his wife miserable for months, and when the cartoonist is released on a ten-day pass, the couple decides to flee the country. Getting out of Iran, however, proves to be a lot more trouble than they'd bargained for. Aside from a tangent about a Chinese passport official, which seems extraneous and tacked on, this is a fascinating look at how government censorship can really put the kibosh on your life, art, and freedom.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    I had my doubts going in, but this memoir of an Iranian cartoonist turned political prisoner and refugee quickly engaged and engrossed me. I'm not sure the cockroach theme really paid off though. I was turned off by several lettering mistakes that slipped past the editor, and it looks to me that the sticker of a cockroach on the cover's spine of the edition I got from my local library may actually be trying to cover up a typo in the book's title. Neyestani deserved better from his publisher, tho I had my doubts going in, but this memoir of an Iranian cartoonist turned political prisoner and refugee quickly engaged and engrossed me. I'm not sure the cockroach theme really paid off though. I was turned off by several lettering mistakes that slipped past the editor, and it looks to me that the sticker of a cockroach on the cover's spine of the edition I got from my local library may actually be trying to cover up a typo in the book's title. Neyestani deserved better from his publisher, though that is of course minor compared to the treatment he received from his government in Iran.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anne Nerison

    Who would have thought that one word in one cartoon could cause so much trouble? An Iranian Metamorphosis tells the true story of author/illustrator Mana Neyestani, whose children's cartoon landed him in an Iranian prison for months. Neyestani's story was riveting, and left me wondering what else could possibly happen at each turn.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    This provides a fresh perspective on life as a professional in Iran as the political situation shifted. And a glimpse into the hurdles faced by both refugees AND officials trying to discern which claimants are in real danger and which are using a handy excuse for personal gain. Heartbreaking.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carolynn

    If you are wondering this week what its like to be creative, a cartoonist, and living in the Muslim world, I highly recommend this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Panels Read Harder: Comic originally published in Europe

  24. 5 out of 5

    Serage

    I wish more comics comes out of the Middle east. As a medium, it is perfect for the political and daily reality there.

  25. 4 out of 5

    William Beauvais

    enjoyed most of this book - a story that needs to be witnessed. charming style, belying the subject matter. it went on a bit long though.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Memoir of a cartoonist who accidentally falls into the middle of a political controversy. Powerful.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Megan Geissler

    Censorship, freedom of press issues

  28. 5 out of 5

    b bb bbbb bbbbbbbb

    It was ok-ish. Didn't enjoy the art and drawing style. The writing was so-so, lots of jarring transitions and some problematic language/etc.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bryanzk

    as a chinese, some of the pictures are so familiar.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I received a finished paperback of this book from the publisher at ALA Midwinter 2018.

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