Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Title: Persepolis: The Story of Childhood
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Pub Date: 2003
Genre: graphic novel, memoir
Rating: 5/5

Title: Persepolis: The Story of a Return
Author: Marjane Satrapri
Pub Date: 204
Pages: 187
Genre: graphic novel, memoir
Challenges: World Citizen; Nymeth's Try Something New Challenge
Rating: 5/5

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for a mini-challenge hosted by Nymeth.  The premise was, with a partner, share the experience of reading something new.  That's how I met Madeline (make sure you check out her blog - she posts great reviews and her pup Oliver is absolutely adorable).  

Madeline & I corresponded via e-mail, introduced ourselves, and shared where we were at in the reading world.  I was pretty open about what I wanted to read next, so when Madeline mentioned that she had Persepolis on her way from Amazon, I checked it out and thought, "why not".  

So the thing is, I have never been interested in reading a graphic novel.  I couldn't get the image of Sunday morning comic strips out of my head.  This was why I jumped at the opportunity to do so here.  I mean, the whole point was to try something new, right?  And I'm glad that I did. My biggest lesson?  Just because there are pictures, doesn't mean there's not substance!

Persepolis (named after the ancient capital of Persia) is a memoir of Marjane Satrapi and her experiences growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution (she was about 10 when it began). This is going to be very embarrassing to admit, but I knew very little about the history of Iran.  And the little that I did know was not from my education, but from a dear friend of mine. I felt as though Satrapi gave a brief enough history in the introduction for ignorant folks like me, and through incredible graphics and dialogue recreated a three-dimensional account that piqued my curiosity and at the same time didn't really overwhelm me because I was lacking in education.

I was captivated from the moment I opened Book I.  (I'm really glad that I ordered them both from the library together rather than have to wait). 

Somethings that stood from both books:
  • Marjane maintains a childlike vice for her twelve year experiences. In particular, when the kids in the school yard play 'execution' "in the name of freedom".
  • There is no G-rating here: Marjane does not coat the horrific executions or bombings. 
  •  As Marjane's Self character ages, her discoveries of who she is and the turmoil of "growing up" is equally paid attention to.
  • She doesn't self-censor, even those moments that she is not proud of.
Finally, the dialogue is incredible.  While in Austria for school, she finds herself reading as many books as possible to fit in.  Right after reading The Second Sex by De Beauvoir: 

"Simone explained that if women peed standing up, their perception of life would change. So I tried it. It an lightly down my left leg. It was a little disgusting. Seated, it was much more simpler. And, as an Iranian woman, before learning to urinate like a man, I needed to learn to become a liberated, emancipated woman." 

I would highly recommend these books to anyone.  I'm so glad that I read them; I feel as if a whole new genre has been opened up for me.


  1. Hi Christine :D

    What a great review! It is an incredible story. It is out on DVD and Marjane Satrapi overseen all the drawings and story. I am trying to find it, I am not sure if it was translated from French. Will let you know.
    It is going to be difficult for me to find such a great graphic novel yet it was a wonderful introduction into the genre.

    Also it is nice to have you as a new blogger friend
    Oliver says woof :D

  2. It makes me very, very happy that both you and Madeleine enjoyed it so much :D I love this book, and I find it an excellent example of what can be done in this medium.

    Also, it makes me even happier that you've made a new friend :)

    PS: Don't forget to enter you post in the Mr Linky so you can be entered for the final giveaway!


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