Sunday, November 15, 2009

Review: Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi) (original post 11/9/09)


The only other graphic novel that I have read is Maus by Art Spiegelman. After reading Persepolis I realize that I like this format for historical memoirs. You get a sense of the author's experience through the graphics that is missing in some dry historical non-fiction.


Title: Persepolis  (This is the first book that I read for the Women Unbound challenge)
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 145
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: (from the website linked above) Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. 

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

Review:  I like that the author makes Iran accessible to western readers with this book. In 1979 I was in 9th grade and remember hearing about the Revolution and the capture of Americans at the embassy (which gets only momentary mention), but I haven't really ever understood what it was all about, why and how it happened and how it really affected the people of Iran. Now I feel I have a better understanding of those events. I feel I got to know Marj, her family and their friends, the difficult times that they experienced and how they still loved their country.

I enjoyed the blend of politics, history, culture, and teenage life that this book offers.

Women Unbound Connection: The author very clearly discusses the role of women in Iran during the years 1979 to 1984 and how the Revolution changed their lives. She covers religion, education, wearing of the veil, the cultural police, arrests, and much more. Very interesting!

1 comment:

Helen said...

Great review - I don't usually read graphic novels, but this sounds very interesting.

Thanks for the comment on my blog, by the way :) And yes, it's good to meet another Helen!