Thursday, January 10, 2008

Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

A graphic novel that serves as the autobiography of author Marjane Saptrapi. I read the complete edition which contains "The story of a childhood" and "The story of a return". Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969 in Iran during the Shah's reign. During her lifetime she has witnessed first hand the takeovwe by the Revolution, the war between Iran and Iraq and the compulsary wearing of the veil by all woman in Iran. Her parents were very liberal and she grew up with an immense curiosity and drive to speak her mind which often got her into trouble in such a strict society. At the age of 14 her parents send her alone to Austria where she goes to school but doesn't fit in. She associates with punks and nihilists where she experiments with drugs and has her first relationship which sadly doesn't end well. After spending some time living on the streets and nearly dying she decides to return home, but starts to suffer from depression when she is back. In Iran she feels like a Westener and in the Western world she feels like an Iranian so struggles to find her place.

This was an excellent novel beautifully illustrated and told with warmth and humour despite the often tragic subjects. I am not really one for politics and don't know more than the basics, but this has given me a thorough grounding in Iranian culture and the wars going on in and near by Iran. The Western view of Iran is of oppression, particularly of woman, and it was lovely to see that behind closed doors there are parties, make-up, relationships (both straight and gay) and everything pretty much the same as over here. The only difference is if caught the penalty can range from interrogation to whipping to death.

If you don't read graphic novels, I urge you not to be put off reading this as you will miss a great story and a great piece work of politics too.


Andi said...

I'm really glad to see that you enjoyed this one. I read it a couple of years ago, and just loved it to pieces. Since then my former Thesis Director has used it in some of her university courses, and I believe she might be teaching it this semester in a multi-ethnic lit class. It's a great place for non-graphic-novel readers to start because it is such an affecting story.

Nice review!

Rhinoa said...

Definitely. I recommended it to the group group I just joined so fingers crossed they will add it to their list.

J at said...

This is on my list, and I'm really looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the great review! Have you seen the movie?