Publisher: Pantheon Books
Release Date: 2004
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Comics & Graphic Novels, General, History, Literary, Middle East, Personal Memoirs, Women
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.
Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom--Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.
I was fairly wary of this book when I picked it up, firstly because it was assigned for school (after reading Jane Eyre, I will now forever doubt this schools ability to choose engaging books), and secondly because it is way out there from my usual genres. Persepolis is a memoir of author Marjane Satrapi’s coming of age story while living in Iran during the 1979 revolution. In addition all of that, it is told in a graphic novel format.
I usually read books that have at least some element of the fantastical, which, as a memoir, Persepolis has none of. I think that the reason I say that I dislike contemporaries is that they are often, at least in my experience, boy meets girl romance stories with not enough plot going on in the background to interest me. Persepolis is nothing like this. There is so much historical information packed in there– and not just the type you can find in a textbook, but actual first hand experiences and viewpoints. We definitely get to see a different, more liberal side of life in Iran during the early 80’s than many people (myself included) expect. I can be interested by pretty much anything historical* so this was definitely the factor that immediately hooked me.
*With the exception of the Renaissance. I am so terribly sick of the Renaissance; in fact, I have spent so much time studying it that I even know how to spell it correctly!
Another thing that really interested me was seeing the way that the narrator interpreted these events, particularly at the start of the book when she is only ten. For most of the book, she has a very limited grasp on what is going on in her country, made even more limited by the mixed signals being sent by her communist parents and her school, which had adopted the strict rules of the Islamist regime. It was fascinating to watch how the politics and violence affected the games she and the other children made up and played.
I feel like I need to talk about the whole graphic novel thing because it was such a foreign format for me. I have nothing in particular against graphic novels, but for whatever reason, I had never read one before this. So I was very surprised when, with the intention of reading only two chapters, I found myself unable to put it down. I was thankful for the large amounts of text above the pictures– I think that I would have had a hard time understanding what was going on without them. I do not know if all graphic novels have this, but I think that I would be hesitant to read one without them. I do think that the pictures contributed to making the story what it was; I think that without them this book would have been a bit ordinary and dull.
So basically, I liked it a lot. I think that is is definitely one of those books that will not erase itself entirely from my memory after a week. There definitely is a lot to think about.(which is probably why it assigned for english class)
I really hope that I did not offend anyone in this review; I was unsure how to label different ruling groups and such. Please tell me if I was in any way insensitive.