When I started reading Marjane Satrapi's memoirs back in mid-May, I had no idea how timely they would turn out to be. These graphic novels tell the story of her childhood and young adulthood in Tehran under the Islamic Revolution and provide some background for the current political events going on in Iran.
PERSEPOLIS: THE STORY OF A CHILDHOOD covers her life from age 10 when the Shah was overthrown until age 14 when she was sent to Vienna. The revolution brought a huge change to Marji who comes from a secular family and was educated in a French school. The young Marji is precocious, fiery, outspoken and utterly adorable. She's also too honest for her own good and has a hard time tolerating the regime's propaganda. Arguments with her teachers and the principal led her to be expelled from two schools, one for a dispute over a banned bracelet and the second time for talking back to a teacher. Her parents decided she wasn't safe in Iran and sent her to to a French school in Vienna.
In ERSEPOLIS 2: THE STORY OF A RETURN, we learn that life in Vienna was no picnic for Marjane. She really was too young to be on her own and had trouble making friends among the Europeans. The teenage Marji is unhappy and angst-ridden, but still as honest and outspoken as ever. After an unhappy love affair left her adrift and homeless on the streets of Vienna at 18, she decided to return home. This transition was also rocky as she fought depression, but eventually came out of it. She attended art school at university, but again had trouble conforming to the strict rules of the Islamic regime. I love the part where she's told by the Guardians of Morality not to run in the street because it makes her butt wiggle provocatively, and she shouts at them, "Then don't look at my ass!"
When Marjane finished school, she left Iran for France. An artist and illustrator, she now lives in Paris. The books are, by turn, revealing, humorous and horrific. I really like her style of illustrating, and I recommend them for anyone who wants to learn more about Iran.
Monday night I watched the animated version of Persepolis, which won the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, a singular accomplishment for an animated film. The film is beautifully animated and powerful. I do think I appreciated it more for having first read the books, as it condenses both volumes into about a 90-minute film.
Salon recently published an interesting article, Unveiling The Revolution By Tracy Clark-Flory, about modern Iranian women. I'm checking out two other books she recommended: Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat and Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni.
The Book Review Club is the brain child of Tween/Teen Author Barrie Summy. Click icon for more book review blogs @ Barrie Summy's site.