Thursday, July 10, 2008

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

I joined the challenge a few months ago and I've already read a few things, the three my library had. Now that I can post on this blog, I'll post them here. I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm new to the medium of graphic novels.

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis:The Story of a Childhood was a delightful but heartbreaking memoir of a girl coming of age during the Iranian revolution and war, 1979-1983. Marji is just 10 when the Shah is overthrown and Iran is transformed into an Islamic state. Marji suddenly must wear a veil and hide her sneakers, which are too “Western.”

While there is nothing humorous about war, torture, and murder, Marji’s memoir of her experiences during this time is full of subtle humor. I loved the stories in which Marji and her family found humor despite their surroundings. (I don’t want to spoil it for you, so you’ll have to read it yourself.)

In Persepolis, Marji had to come to terms with who she was, and she had to reconcile herself with God. It was a beautiful story of growth, even in the midst of horrific war.

By reading Persepolis, I’ve joined the world of graphic novels readers (although I really dislike that term; read this post to find out why). I was amazed at how natural it felt to read in this format. I wasn’t sure if it would be quicker or slower than reading a non-graphic novel, but it was an interesting blend. The book itself was quite short, so I found it was very quick. Besides, as the cliché says “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and sometimes I found the pictures did shorten it wonderfully: they told us what we needed to know without having to explain it in many words.

For example, when her father explained that her grandfather was the son of the overturned emperor, the next box is thus (page 22):

The cursive writing and squiggly lines so perfectly capture the day dream. Explaining the same thing in words would have detracted from the strength of the day dream.

I guess my question for myself should be: would I have read Marji’s memoir if it wasn’t in the form of a graphic novel? Probably not. While I am very interested in history and international politics, Iran isn’t on the top of my nonfiction interest list these days. But I’ve very glad I did read it; it was an intriguing look into a life completely foreign to my own.

I am excited about the prospect of graphic books. Reading this was a different experience--just like listening an audiobook is a different experience. But it is still reading! I believe now that you can't say it's not reading until you give it a try.

I look forward to reading Marji's continuing story in Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return.

Originally posted on Rebecca Reads.

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