The One with the Ancient Persian God

Nicolas Wild, Silent was Zarathustra (French 2013, English 2016)

What do you know about Zarathustra? If you’re like me, probably nothing, except a vague relation to Nietzsche (except I never read it). I vaguely knew that it was an ancient god but I wouldn’t have put it on a map (it’s actually in Iran, then Persia). And I can understand that this subject doesn’t come up very often in conversation.

Still, the book was fascinating, and so very instructive. Normally I breeze through graphic novels, finishing them within one or two days, but in that case it took me more than one week, to learn and digest what I’d learn, and follow the adventures of naive-narrator-cum-journalist Nicolas from Paris to Iran to Switzerland and back.

In Paris, Nicolas meets a beautiful young Iranian woman who invites him to Iran to celebrate the life of her deceased father. A key figure in the last remnants of the Zoroastrian religions, he has been assassinated in Switzerland, in unclear circumstances, apparently a mere domestic fight. In Iran, Nicolas learns about the Zoroastrian religion and culture, which Iranian Muslim leaders barely tolerate when they don’t outright disapprove and threaten believers.

Nicolas Wild was inspired by the real life and death of a famous Zoroastrian public figure, but he reinvented a fictional character so as to be more free with his explanations and interpretations. His treatment is quite sensitive and subtle, but also funny and caring. The art reminded me of Tintin, and Nicolas’ own adventures are just as eventful! I’m a total convert (to Wild, not to Zoroastrianism!) and want to read his other books in 2019.

ps. this was the last book I read in 2018… better late than never…

3 thoughts on “The One with the Ancient Persian God

  1. Pingback: The One with the Expats in Kabul | Smithereens

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