“You’ve never seen anything like Persepolis--the intimacy of a memoir, the irresistibility of a comic book, and the political depth of the conflict between fundamentalism and democracy. Marjane Satrapi may have given us a new genre.” –Gloria Steinem
Marjane Satrapi’s autobiography is a timely and timeless story of a young girl’s life under the Islamic Revolution. Descended from the last Emperor of Iran, Satrapi is nine when fundamentalist rebels overthrow the Shah. While Satrapi’s radical parents and their community initially welcome the ouster, they soon learn a new brand of totalitarianism is taking over. Satrapi’s art is minimal and stark yet often charming and humorous as it depicts the madness around her. She idolizes those who were imprisoned by the Shah, fascinated by their tales of torture, and bonds with her Uncle Anoosh, only to see the new regime imprison and eventually kill him. Thanks to the Iran-Iraq war, neighbors’ homes are bombed, playmates are killed and parties are forbidden. Satrapi’s parents, who once lived in luxury despite their politics, struggle to educate their daughter. Her father briefly considers fleeing to America, only to realize the price would be too great. “I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?” he asks his wife. Iron Maiden, Nikes and Michael Jackson become precious symbols of freedom, and eventually Satrapi’s rebellious streak puts her in danger, as even educated women are threatened with beatings for improper attire. Despite the grimness, Satrapi never lapses into sensationalism or sentimentality. Skillfully presenting a child’s view of war and her own shifting ideals, she also shows quotidian life in Tehran and her family’s pride and love for their country despite the tumultuous times. Powerfully understated, this work joins other memoirs; Spiegelman’s Maus and Sacco’s Safe Area Goradze-that use comics to make the unthinkable familiar.
Persepolis is a great graphic story and the first the Book Beat reading group has read. It is a fascinating and highly enjoyable read. Members unananimously praised the book as sensitive, hilarious, raw and brilliant. You learn something about history and the way war and rebellion effects us on a deeply personal level. It is a perfect graphic work to start with if you are just exploring or thinking about looking into the genre. It can be recommended for anyone interested in censorship, global awareness, foreign cultures, peace and violence in childhood and is especially important for politically and socially aware young adults. It is a book that will open the world to you through the eyes of a child. Be aware there is a sequel, Persepolis 2 now out (you will want to read it as soon as you finish book one) Another volume is coming soon to complete the trilogy.
“Perhaps part of the reason why West Point cadets read this extraordinary book is because they are being trained to think â€œglobally.â€ You have probably heard that term before, but have you thought about what it means? It means that none of us live in isolation. Social and political events in one country impact all countries.” – LaRouche College, reading program
“From the time I came to France in 1994, I was always telling stories about life in Iran to my friends. We’d see pieces about Iran on television, but they didn’t represent my experience at all. I had to keep saying, “No, it’s not like that there.” I’ve been justifying why it isn’t negative to be Iranian for almost twenty years. How strange when it isn’t something I did or chose to be?
After I finished university, there were nine of us, all artists and friends, working in a studio together. That group finally said, “Do something with your stories.” They introduced me to graphic novelists. Spiegelman was first. And when I read him, I thought “Jesus Christ, it’s possible to tell a story and make a point this way.” It was amazing.” — Marjane Satrapi
Read more of Marjane’s interview at ON WRITING PERSEPOLIS To purchase a copy from Book Beat try: Perspolis: The Story of a Childhood