Zahra’s Paradise is the name of a cemetery outside Tehran. It is also the title of a web graphic novel by Amir and Khalil, published by Marc Siegel – an Iranian author and Arab illustrator working with a Jewish publisher.
The novel was serialised online to keep up with the events unfolding in Iran after protests erupted following the disputed elections in 2009. A new episode was published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The novel tells the story of a mother, Zahra, whose 19-year-old son Medhi went missing during the demonstrations. His brother, a blogger, searches for Mehdi at hospitals, prisons and courthouses.
The authors do not use their real names, but collected fragments of Iranian life and politics shared by Iranians through blogs and YouTube videos in order to build a broader story around the images. The novel has been translated into a dozen languages.
Zahra’s Paradise has also been published in hardback, but Amir explains to the BBC how the online version was able to reach a wider audience – and bypass the censors more easily.
Produced by Anna Bressanin, camera by Ilya Shnitser