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Woman, Life, Freedom by Marjane Satrapi

    An urgent, groundbreaking and visually stunning new collection of graphic story-telling about the present Iranian revolution, using comics to show what would be censored in photos and film in Iran.

    On September 13th, 2022, a young Iranian student, Mahsa Amini, was arrested by the morality police in Tehran. Her only crime was that she wasn’t properly wearing the headscarf required for women by the Islamic Republic. At the police station, she was beaten so badly she had to be taken to the hospital, where she fell into a deep coma. She died three days later.

    Marjane Satrapi, the acclaimed author of Persepolis, makes a powerful return to the art form that brought her international fame. With this ambitious collaboration, she brings together over 20 dedicated activists, innovative artists, fearless journalists, and insightful academics to craft a compelling tapestry in a bid to depict the significance of the historic movement unfolding in Iran.

    At the heart of this project lies a deep commitment to demonstrate unity with the people of Iran—particularly the women at the forefront of the struggle. Through a series of engrossing narratives and artistic expressions, each contributor brings a unique perspective to the revolution, reflecting the diverse aspects of the conflict that might otherwise not be a medium for global understanding due to stringent censorship.

    As much a call to action as it is a work of art, this anthology offers unflinching insight into the bravery, resistance, and the human spirit’s resilience. It is not only an ode to the many individuals risking everything for change but also an acknowledgment of feminism’s vital role in the revolution. The bold and raw artistry within the pages serves as a beacon of the uncensored truth, an act of solidarity, and a testament to the power of graphic storytelling.

    A wave of protests soon spread through the country, and crowds adopted the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom”—words chanted worldwide during solidarity rallies.

    To tell the story of this major revolution happening in her homeland, Marjane Satrapi has gathered together an array of journalists, activists, academics, artists, and writers from around the world to create this powerful collection of full-color, graphic-novel-style essays and perspectives that bear witness:

    • Contributing artists: Joann Sfar, Coco, Mana Neyastani, Catel, Pascal Rabate, Patricia Bolanos, Paco Roca, Bahareh Akrami, Hippolyte, Shabnam Adiban, Lewis Trondheim, Winshluss, Touka Neyastani, Bee, Deloupy, Nicolas Wild, and Marjane Satrapi.
    • 3 expert perspectives on Iran: long-time journalist for Libération and political scientist Jean-Pierre Perrin; researcher and Iran specialist Farid Vahid; and UC Berkeley historian Abbas Milani, Director of the Iranian Studies program at Stanford University.

    Woman, Life, Freedom demonstrates that this is not an unexpected movement, but a major uprising in a long history of women who have wanted to affirm their rights. It will continue.

    Marjane Satrapi eloquently illustrates the complex interplay between ideals and survival, highlighting the harsh reality that often confronts individuals living under oppressive regimes. Satrapi poignantly suggests that while ideals hold significant importance, they can pale in comparison to the imperative of safeguarding one’s own life. This sentiment resonates deeply, especially in contexts where oppressive regimes tighten their grip on dissent and individual liberties.

    The narrative underscores the painful choices individuals are forced to make when faced with the oppressive machinery of power. In the wake of the Iranian regime’s ascent to power and its subsequent crackdown on dissent, Satrapi vividly portrays the predicament faced by Iranians of conscience. Confronted with the harsh reality of persecution and reprisal, many find themselves compelled to compromise their deeply held morals to navigate the treacherous landscape of survival.

    Satrapi’s exploration serves as a poignant reminder of the profound sacrifices individuals may be forced to make in the pursuit of self-preservation. The notion that one must sometimes sacrifice their ideals to ensure their safety reflects the sobering truth of life under tyranny. In such oppressive environments, the pursuit of freedom often becomes a delicate balancing act between holding onto one’s principles and making pragmatic concessions for survival.

    Through “Woman, Life, Freedom,” Satrapi offers a compelling examination of the moral complexities inherent in living under authoritarian rule. The stark portrayal of individuals grappling with the agonizing choices imposed upon them by oppressive forces serves as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Ultimately, Satrapi’s work challenges readers to confront the harsh realities of tyranny while simultaneously recognizing the enduring human yearning for freedom and dignity.

    MARJANE SATRAPI, author of Persepolis, is an autobiographical series that sold more than two million copies and won international awards. After writing two other prize-winning books (Embroidery and Chicken with Plums), she devoted herself to cinema and painting. Her first two films are adaptations of her works: the animated film Persepolis, which received two Cesar awards and was nominated for an Oscar, and her film Poulet aux prunes, which won awards in Abu Dhabi and Sao Paulo.

    UNA DIMITRIJEVIĆ was born in Bosnia, grew up in Scotland, and now lives in France. She translates from Serbo-Croat and French into English. Her translations of The Mental Load: A Feminist Comic and The Emotional Load and Other Invisible Stuff were published by Seven Stories Press in 2018 and 2020.

    JEAN-PIERRE PERRIN is a journalist, war correspondent, and reporter who covers the Near and Middle East and is currently the Iran correspondent for Médiapart. His books have been awarded the
    Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle and the Joseph Kessel Prize.

    FARID VAHID is an Iranian political scientist. He graduated from the University of Tehran in electrical engineering and from Sciences Po Lyon in international relations. He now lives in Paris where he is director of the Observatory of North Africa and the Middle East of the Jean Jaurès Foundation.

    ABBAS MALEKZADEH MILANI is an Iranian-American historian. He is a visiting professor of political science and director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University. He is also a researcher and co-director of the Democracy in Iran Project at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

    Contributing artists, including four Iranians. Joann Sfar, Coco, Mana Neyastani, Catel, Pascal Rabate, Patricia Bolanos, Paco Roca, Bahareh Akrami, Hippolyte, Shabnam Adiban, Lewis Trondheim, Winshluss, Touka Neyastani, Bee, Deloupy, Nicolar Wild, Hamoun. (Two artists have taken a pen name, Bee and Hamoun.)

    Tony M.