Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Marjane spent her growing up years in Iran, the daughter of wealthy-ish middle class parents. Her formative years were during the Iranian Revolution, in which her immediate and extended family took an active part. Politically, it was a time of great unrest and uncertainty and, if her book is any indication, she spent much of her time mulling over the things she sees and hears as an only child.
She's an interesting character - at times naive and idealistic, and, as she grows older, very aware of the horrible circumstances that surround her and she almost seems to revel in the horror. She is close to her family but becomes increasingly fed up with how restrictive her society becomes after Iran becomes an Islamic Republic. Oh, and of course, there's the Iran Iraq war - this woman lived through a very unstable time.
I think the main reason that I liked to read her story is because it is so very different from my own story. I had no sense of politics until late high school, at least - perhaps mostly because of the country I live in and partly because my parents didn't seem to actively engage with me in discussions about it, as Marjane's parents did. I can't say that this book changed my life, or that I even got a sense of an overarching theme of "war is bad" or "my childhood stunk." She is not a character that I felt pity for, even as horrible things are happening to her - partly because I didn't get the feeling that she was pitying herself.
The graphic novel format really worked for me - I'm not sure her story would've been quite as interesting without her creative drawings. I think also, it might've been much more "graphic" to have had to read about all the violence instead of just seeing her take on it, which nearly always gave you the sense and idea of the violence without being overly bloody or intense.
As an introduction to modern Iranian history for teens (and grownups) , I think it's fantastic - it puts a face on the masses and she does include background for the events that she experiences or hears about. I think every story we read that makes a group of people seem more familiar and their views more understandable is a story worth telling.