Thursday, July 06, 2006

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

A friend of mine originally read this book several months ago and loved it, and I intended to read it eventually, but it slipped my mind. When Heather reviewed it more recently, it jogged my memory and I went and borrowed it and actually got around to reading it this time!

Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

A graphic novel, the story is quite simple, telling the story of Marjane's childhood in Iran, particulary focussing on her life between the ages of 10 and 14, at an incredible turbulent time in her country's history. A young girl, Marjane is trying to understand the changing political and religious landscape, including the loss of freedom and the imposition of the veil, and then the war with Iraq.

I was so surprised by the emotions that this book generated. Whilst I was expecting to like this book, it really touched me in ways I did not expect. I was tearing up on the train, I physically cringed as I saw and read about her uncle, and I laughed at the idea of her parents smuggling in Kim Wilde posters.

Very powerful, and highly recommended.

I can't wait to pick up Persepolis II!

Rating 4.5/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Hidden Side of a Leaf

Things Mean A Lot
B & b Ex Libris
The Bluestockings
Katrina's Reads


  1. Man, I can't believe I forgot that I was going to get this and the sequel from Random House. I have to try and remember to get them next time.

  2. Wasn't it great?! It's so deceptively simple, but it really grabs you in and you don't even see it coming. She has another new book coming out this year called Chicken with Plums. I also really want to get my hands on Embroderies.

  3. Adding yet another book to my TBB list. Thanks Marg!

  4. It was a great book, I like your review as well! Thanks for the link to yours, and for linking to mine.

    I love being able to link to other bloggers reviews!