Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Book Review Club: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

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.

Linda


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.

17 comments:

David Cranmer said...

I have put off reading Persepolis long enough. I spend a good deal of my life in the graphic aisle as is and with current events, Satrapi's book has never been more timely. Thanks for the review.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My book group did this last month. I also liked the movie a lot.

Chris Eldin said...

I'm over from Barries...

I read the second book a year ago and LOVED it! A friend (Iranian, who grew up in Italy and studied art there) recommended it.

Great review!

Linda McLaughlin said...

David, you're so right. No better time to read Persepolis.

Patti and Chris, glad you enjoyed the books, too.

Kathy Holmes said...

Sounds fascinating. This Book Review Club is so awesome for getting me out of my comfort reading zone.

Linda McLaughlin said...

The book review club is fun, isn't it, Kathy?

Sarah Laurence said...

What an interesting and timely book to review. I hadn't heard of it before and will have to check it out. Great post! Nice to connect with you!

Alyssa Goodnight said...

That is quite a story! And what success she has achieved!

Very eye-catching illustrations. I could definitely stand to learn more about Iran.

Thanks for the review!

Barrie said...

How very very interesting. Like Kathy, I love hearing about books that I wouldn't necessarily pick up on my own. But after one of our reviews, I know I must read it!

Teresa said...

Great review, Linda. I really liked Persepolis I. And you're right, it is a timely book with all that is going on in the world. I loved that Salon article about how Iranian women have been resisting the ayatollahs for years. They are gutsy like the girl in the Persepolis books.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Sarah and Alyssa, thanks for dropping by. I enjoyed your reviews, too.

Barrie, I think you'll really like Persepolis.

Teresa, thanks for giving me your copies of the books. I really did enjoy reading them.

Phoenix said...

This was a very interesting read. I'll look out for it. Starting with new authors always gives me a lot of pleasure.. even a sense of adventure.

Kathleen Rowland said...

Women are still oppressed in many parts of the world where "morality police" rule. PERSEPOLIS sounds enlightened and humorous. Thank you for sharing this, Linda.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Phoenix, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you found the review interesting.

Kathleen, you're so right about women still be oppressed in many cultures. I sometimes wonder if it will ever end.

Sarahlynn said...

I've been meaning to read Persepolis since I saw it reviewed in Ms. Thank you for the timely reminder!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Thanks for dropping by, Sarahlynn. I hope you enjoy Persepolis.

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