Wednesday, January 30, 2008

BOOK: Persepolis 1 & 2: Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
by Marjane Satrapi

in their shoes challenge

This was my first graphic novel, and I am very impressed. This memoir of a young girl's life before, during, and after the Iranian revolution was very powerful. Part of the reason is that I am about the same age as Marjane, and I can remember the eighties, and the American view of what was going on. The war now in Iraq is even more relevant when you can see what happened twenty years ago to set it up. I had a student join my class in September from Iran and it is enlightening to read what his parents would have grown up in. One of the reasons his family left was so that he would not have to join the army, as all young boys must.

The first volume is from 1979, just before the revolution, until 1984, when Marjane left Iran. If more people read books, and could read what happens inside a country during a war, I'm sure there would be less of it. It is so easy to get an image of a country and its people from the news, but that shows us so little of what is going on. Satrapi's family is not represented in my past view of Iran, and I am so glad to have read this, and realize that many people in the country did not support the revolution, and also to get an appreciation for the history of Persia.

This teenager was wanting to fit in with her sneakers and punk music, wanting to be political and protest, and yet, wanting to survive as well. Her family was rebellious and cautious at the same time, eventually deciding to send their daughter away, for her survival and education.

Book 2, The Return, chronicles Marji's years in Vienna, trying to fit in as an Iranian in Europe, and then her return, an Iranian who has been away. She can't win. Her struggle to know herself resonated with me, and most women, as we balance our roles within society's expectations. Add living in a a Fundamentalist regime, having the length of your head scarf measured, and being taken in front of a Commission, on top of general life, and this story elevates to a different kind of struggle. But she is still trying to be feminine, meet boys, get educated and figure out who she is, mistakes and all.

Marji so impressed me, as she spoke the truth, except for a few cases with men! and stood up for her beliefs. She is a wonderful example of a strong woman. This memoir will stay with me for quite a while, and has opened my eyes to the possibilities of a graphic novel. I heard it is being made into a movie. There are two levels of this book - the woman and the country, and both are equally interesting.

Much like The Kite Runner showed a different side of Afghanistan, letting westerners see what the people were like - just like us, Perspolis has changed my view of Iran forever.


  1. This is one I may not have picked up without a recommendation. You made them sound really good.

  2. I'm planning on reading these for the graphic novel challenge. Glad to hear you liked them!

  3. booklogged - I was leary of a graphic novel, but I liked how she was able to convey so much with her prose.

    3m - I'll be looking forward to your reviews!

  4. I've been wanting to read these for a while. Glad to hear they don't disappoint. How's the artwork?

  5. john - I really liked it, but my only reference to comics up til now has been Archie and Jughead, so I don't have a lot to compare to.

  6. Everything you've reviewed lately is something I'm wanting to read. Neat!

  7. These were the first graphic novels that I read, and I was so surprised, not at how I enjoyed them, but at how MUCH I enjoyed them!

  8. bybee - I've had an incredible reading month, some truly wonderful books

    marg - exactly! And because it was a new way to read -voice and image, it was doubly powerful. I really liked Satrapi's voice, how she worded things

  9. I'm looking forward to reading the next one, I've added your review x


Thanks for commenting, so nice of you to visit.

(I'll try without the letters for a while - so please dont be a spammer! Let's try no anonymous users)