“With light and airy illustrations, Mahdavian tackles these complex themes with humor and wit.” —NPR, Books We Love 2023
NPR BEST BOOKS OF 2023 ● NEW YORKER BEST BOOKS WE’VE READ IN 2023● A gorgeously illustrated and written debut graphic memoir about belonging, identity, and making a home in the remote American West, by New Yorker cartoonist Navied Mahdavian.
Before Navied Mahdavian moved with his wife and dog in November of 2016 from San Francisco to an off-the-grid cabin in rural Idaho, he had never fished, gardened, hiked, hunted, or lived in a snowy place. But there, he could own land, realize his dream of being an artist, and start a family. Over the next three years, Mahdavian leaned into the wonders of the natural Idaho landscape and found himself adjusting to and enjoying a slower pace of living. But beyond the boundaries of his six acres, he was confronted with the realities of America’s political shifts and forced to confront the question: Do I belong here?
Mahdavian’s beautifully written and unflinchingly honest graphic memoir charts his growth and struggles as an artist, citizen, and new father. It celebrates his love of place and honors the relationships he makes in rural America, touching on dynamics like culture, environment, and identity in America, and even articulating difficult moments of racism and brutality he found there as a Middle Eastern American. With wit, compassion, and a sense of humor, Mahdavian’s insider perspective offers a unique portrait of one of the most remote and wild areas of the American West.
About the Author
Navied Mahdavian has been a contributing cartoonist at the New Yorker since 2018. His work has also been published in Reader's Digest, Wired, and Alta Online and the books The Rejection Collection and Send Help! Before becoming a cartoonist, he taught the fifth grade, where he learned most of his jokes. Mahdavian was born in Miami and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“With light and airy illustrations, Mahdavian tackles these complex themes with humor and wit.” —NPR, ‘Best Books of 2023’
“This moving graphic memoir… beautifully depicts a quest for belonging and the revelation that it rarely comes in the shape or form that one expects.” —New Yorker
“This is a charming, hilarious, and at times frightening memoir about the years Navied and Emelie (and their dog, Stanley) Mahdavian spent building a home in remote Idaho after being pushed out of the San Francisco Bay area…This will appeal to readers of memoir, social commentary, and, in a minor spoiler, graphic medicine.” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“A beautifully drawn memoir full of humor, intelligence, and sensitivity.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A charming, meditative graphic memoir… This exceptional debut is a sublime self-examination.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Poetic and personal, This Country meditates on what it means to create a home in the pockets of America where not everybody is wanted… not one to miss for anybody interested in insightful explorations of America’s heartland.” —Bookpage, STARRED REVIEW
“A heartfelt new addition to the canon of graphic memoirs, This Country is both sad and hopeful, a homecoming and a departure.” —Washington Post
“An extraordinary achievement, suffused with love and humor. One feels not just the rooms but the weather, time of day, the rhythms of nature.” —Jason Adam Katzenstein, cartoonist and author of Everything Is an Emergency
"Why did urban, vegetarian, gun-wary Navied, of Iranian descent, have the big, bright idea to move with his wife to the frigid mountains of Idaho, months before Trump’s election? Riveting, searching, complex and, oh, hilarious, this memoir ultimately is a quest for strength, wildness, and love, for a deeper vision of all things Earth. Surely this is my favorite graphic memoir I’ve read in years." —Deb Olin Unferth, author of Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War
"Enamored of nature and dazzled by fantasies of the rugged west, a young mixed—race couple build a tiny home in the wilds of Idaho—and must confront an America at odds with itself. In This Country, Mahdavian explores today’s cultural divide with a keen eye and a graceful touch. The resulting portrait is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking, elegant and complex, brutal and tender. I dare you not to fall in love." —Alia Volz, author of Homebaked: Home Baked: Marijuana, My Mother and the Stoning of San Francisco
"This Country is a hilarious and sometimes harrowing graphic memoir about the Mahdavians' quest to live self-sufficiently in rural Idaho. Learning how to cut down a tree to heat your own house and grow your own vegetables is only one part of it....Wonderful drawings and beautiful writing make this book a great read." —Roz Chast, author and cartoonist of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
“I knew Navied Mahdavian was one of the funniest cartoonists of his generation; This Country proves he is also one of its most subtle and sophisticated graphic storytellers. In Navied's hands, comics feel like poetry. Perfect ink drawings bring land, beast, and human, with all their delicacy and yearning, viscerally to life. This Country, a quintessential story of seeking a home in America and (maybe) finding it, and made me want to grant my own surroundings the grace, humor, and dignity of Navied's observant study.” —Amy Kurzweil, cartoonist and author of Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir
"A charming, wise, and haunting book. [I've known] that town quite well for the last thirty years, [and Mahdavian has] captured it in all its complexity." —Christopher Guest actor, screenwriter, and director (Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, This is Spinal Tap)
“This Country is touching, personal, and frequently hilarious. Mahdavian weaves heavy themes of home and belonging with disarming moments of silliness and levity. It’s a story specific to his experience, yet relatable to anyone who has ever searched for a place to be.” —Reza Farazmand, writer and illustrator of Poorly Drawn Lines
“Ostensibly, This Country is about a couple finding their place in the world and learning the true history of the land they're building a life on—a land that has seen both turmoil and awe—but amid the harsh truth, blatant racism, and struggles to fit in, there is so much beauty and humor and compassion. Mahdavian's drawings are deceptively simple, perfectly capturing the wonder of little everyday occurrences. Of time moving, a small family growing and changing, of an entire country still reckoning with past and present mistakes. This is a very important book for pretty much everyone.” —Julia Wertz, cartoonist and author of Impossible People and Tenements, Towers Trash