Joe & Azat visit the Wall Street Journal…
“The story follows the unlikely friendship of an American and a Turkmen as they trade cultural gaffes and tolerate life in a totalitarian regime. (Azat’s brother, for example, claims that he is the Turkmen version of Chuck Norris.)
Cartoonists have long tackled travel writing in a variety of ways. For Lonergan, who was inspired by the short stories of W. Somerset Maugham, he hoped to inject some humanity into a country that’s known mostly for its eccentric dictator.
“You only read about the crazy politics and it doesn’t give a sense of reality. I wanted to focus on what life was like for people there rather than the dictator who names January after himself,” says Lonergan. This is a real place and that can be lost in the stories I read.”
Of course, not everything Lonergan experienced made its way into the book. “I hated the food,” he says. “But that doesn’t need to be commented on.”