Book Review: Persepolis – The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
Okay, I’m probably cheating a bit by including this in my 52 books contest. After all, this book is a graphic novel. I could have read this is in way less than a day if I hadn’t kept stopping to do other things. That said, it’s technically a novel that’s over 100 pages, and I did read it this year. Besides, I had so much other stuff to do this week that I don’t feel too bad including this.
Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s 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 and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. 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 reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with 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.
I’ve never read a graphic novel before. I had to read a graphic novel for class, and I chose this one because I’d heard good things about it and because I vaguely remembered liking the film when we watched it in college.
I’m so glad I chose this graphic novel to read! I interviewed a classmate of mine for a different class last semester who was from Iran, and everything she told me about growing up seems to fit with this book. Marjane is such an interesting character to read about. The book shows a great mix of history/politics and normal kid stuff. Marjane wants to keep up with everything that’s cool and hip, even though the country is being ravaged by war and taken over by fundamentalists. Some parts made me laugh out loud, and other parts made me cry.
The drawings in this book are great. They’re not the most realistic looking drawings, but Satrapi shows emotion so well. I’ve been known to get confused trying to read graphic novels before, but this one was really easy to read. I’m so glad my teacher made us read a graphic novel, as I don’t know if I ever would have gotten around to reading this one otherwise. I’m now kicking myself for not having ordered the second book at the same time.
If you’ve ever been curious about what it was like to grow up in Iran, this is a great book to get. You get a history lesson in a way that’s fun and emotional, not boring like textbooks usually are. You get to see the personal side of war. It touches on a lot of issues that are really important for people to talk about. The fact that this is a true story makes it all the more horrific and amazing. I will definitely be buying the sequel soon.