Author: Marjane Satrapi
Genre: Autobiography, graphic book
Published March 6th 2008, by Vintage
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Story of a Childhood and The Story of a Return
The intelligent and outspoken child of radical Marxists, and the great-grandaughter of Iran’s last emperor, Satrapi 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. This is a beautiful and intimate story full of tragedy and humour – raw, honest and incredibly illuminating.
My Goodreads review:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I bought this, the bookseller asked me if I’d read it before. I said ‘no’ and she told me that when she read it she found it ‘eye opening’. I can completely understand why. Despite the fact that it wasn’t published recently, it still has significance today and that’s the beauty of it.
Also, the form of a graphic novel is highly appropriate for the kind of story the book tells. It handles difficult and shocking subjects, but makes them understandable and even humorous.
I love the style and tone of the writing that accompanies the illustrations, and overall this is a book I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
If you haven’t read it, read it now! I’m probably going to go and find the film and watch that.
The first time I heard of this book was in college when I did film studies. We were given example projects to give us an idea of what we should do for our own. One of the past student projects had been about a film called Persepolis, which is the film adaptation of this very book.
So this book has been in the back of my mind for a number of years, but I never sought it out. Then I came across it in Fopp, which is one of my favoruite places to buy books (brand new condition at 2 for £5 – yes please!) and I couldn’t resist it.
I haven’t read a graphic novel before, and I was excited to read this because of it being a true story in a visually pleasing and easy-to-read format. All I knew before reading it was that it is set in Iran.
Firstly, the illustrations are simple to look at but they are brilliantly drawn. The black and white block style stands out and is instantly recognisable, which I find amazing! A lot of thought and detail has been put into each page and each individual ‘box’, but it isn’t overcrowded. Basically, I can’t fault the illustration.
The words are well-written and well-placed. They complement the illustrations and fit nicely into the box and is again, visually pleasing.
The story itself is one that everyone could do with reading. We have certain perceptions of country’s like Iran, and cultures like the one Marjane was born in and brought up with, but these perceptions aren’t always accurate. They are often filtered by the media, and fed to us through ignorant and mis-leading headlines.
The idea that all Muslims are extremists, for example. It simply isn’t true, and this book opens our eyes to the real experience of people living in those cultures. I thought I was well-informed and uninfluenced by the media portrayal of the East, but this book still managed to shock and surprise me.
When I was younger, I used to wonder what it would be like to be part of a religion or a culture that had strict rules. Wear a headscarf, no sex before marriage, arranged marriage etc. In my young and naive years, this appealed to me mostly because I had no sense of what it would mean to be completely independent. This book has given me the chance to reflect on my early impressions of such a culture, and to realise that just because someone was born into a religion and culture, it doesn’t mean that they’ll grow up wanting to be a part of it.
Yes, we stay true to our origins, but what I learnt most from this book is that being independent, and allowing ourselves to have freedom in who we are and the choices we make, is an important aspect of our lives whoever we are and wherever we live.
All I can say is, I can’t fault this book, and I highly recommend it. It’s healthy to read a book like this every so often, especially in recent times.
Link to the book on Goodreads: