Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nylon Road by Parsua Bashi

Parsua Bashi was born in Tehran in 1966. Nylon Road is her memoir in graphic novel format about coming of age in Iran during the revolution. Bashi studied art at university during the mid-80s, when "art books had been censored with markers or scissors." Some pages were torn completely out and students were not allowed to see artistic masterpieces. Bashi was once whipped by revolutionary authorities because she was caught walking with a male student after they had been sent to an art store by their instructor.

In spite of these and other obstacles, Bashi has become a well-respected graphic artist. (Check out her website here.) In Nylon Road, her crisp artwork is reproduced in shadings of black, grey and umber.

Bashi's move to Switzerland in 2004 is the starting point for her memoir. She has conversations -- and often arguments -- with her younger selves who keep popping up and making her explain herself. Her 13-year-old self, for example, was a militant communist who annoyed her family -- including the dog -- with lectures about class oppression. Contemporary Bashi has gained perspective in the years since then. She sees similarities between the consumer culture among Swiss teenagers, young religious zealots, and political rebels like herself at 13. In each case, "No individuality is allowed."
Bashi alone in Zurich... with all of her younger selves
Bashi's cartoony style provides a humourous balance to the poignant episodes, such as being forced to leave her daughter behind in Iran. Her memoir is entertaining, informative and intimate.

Readalike: Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi); Reading Lolita in Tehran (Azar Nafisi).

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