Thursday, August 5, 2010

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
by Marjane Satrapi
153 pages
Pantheon Books, 2003

A graphic novel in a college curriculum? Evidently. It was a surprise to see Persepolis in the Amazon box containing my daughter's fall semester textbooks, but it turns out her college is not alone. I'm not sure whether it's for one of the writing classes (several other memoir/autobiographies were included in the shipment) or Intro to Women's Studies, but it is certainly appropriate for any of them.

Persepolis begins with Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution when Satrapi, the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, is 10 years old. She's smart, outspoken, and, as the only child of fervent Marxists, offers a unique child's perspective on the era. The book ends four years later when her parents, fearing for their daughter's safety during the Iran-Iraq War, send Marjane to Vienna.

Although Persepolis is a graphic novel, it is not a quick, easy read. Nor is it exactly "enjoyable". The black and white drawings effectively portray the tragedy and hardship of war. They also posses an amazing ability to convey an immediacy of despair, and I found my eyes welling up once or twice along the way.

Even if you shy away from war memoirs as I do, Persepolis is well worth taking a look at. Satrapi's more recent books, Persepolis 2 and Embroideries, have been added to my tbr list. And, after struggling to read the text in some of the speech bubbles, investing in a new pair of reading glasses has been added to my "to do"list!

18 comments:

  1. Sorry about the reading glasses.

    Persepolis is actually a very interesting book to study. I did that myself this year. I do think it is one of the better memoirs about Iran out there. Glad you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It showed up on my son's high school reading list last summer. That's how I ended up reading it. I liked it--thought it a bit pedantic at times.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've been hearing about this book for years now. I really need to check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I highly recommend watching the DVD of these books. It stays very true to the book and is just like seeing the pages come to life - one of the few films that is better than the book!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've heard such great things about this book, and with my newly discovered love affair with graphic novels, I know I would love it. I just finished a superb one about North Korea called Pyongyang and those test bubbles were pretty tiny too! Eeek!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Iris - I'll be interested to see what my daughter's class does with this one, but first I need to figure out which class it's for!

    Amy - Don't think I would have picked this up if it hadn't been in that box, but I'm glad I did. There are a couple of others I'd like to read before they get packed for college...

    EL Fay - Just checked my library and they have Persepolis 2 available, so I'll pick that up tomorrow. I want to know what happened once she arrived in Vienna.

    Jackie - Thanks for the recommendation. Didn't realize there was a film!

    Sandy - Just got some new reading glass this afternoon with my Border's coupon! Off to look up Pyongyang...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Always glad to see curriculum choices morphing. And would be very happy to red this (although perhaps happy is not the best word choice). As school is aout to start, I am right in the midst of selecting middle school reading selections and feeling both excited and overwhelmed by the number of fantastic choices.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I didn't like the 2nd Persepolis volume as much as the first - it has less to do with Iran and with history and more to do with being a teen with drugs and drinking and identity. On the other hand, I LOVED Embroideries and Chicken With Plums, her biography of her uncle, a famous Iranian musician.

    ReplyDelete
  9. We are on the same wavelength this week. I reviewed this book on Tuesday.

    I agree with your conclusions. I found it a very moving story. I didn't enjoy it as much as Embroideries, probably because of the subject matter and the very small print. I finally got my very strong magnifying glass to help me finish the story.

    I'm so glad it's on the syllabus of a college course. It's one that shouldn't be missed.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Frances - I'm always excited to see the reading lists come home, but what fun to select all those books with someone else's money!

    Amanda - Just picked up Persepolis 2 from the library today and put Embroideries on hold. Looking forward to both.

    Margot - We are on the same wavelength! I'm looking forward to Embroideries (just put a hold on it today) and used my Border's coupon for a new pair of reading glasses :-)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I loved both Persepolis books. So glad you enjoyed this one. Marjane is a wonderful kid (and the grandmother, oh!). Will have to read Embroideries. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  12. DS - I just got Persepolis 2 from the library, so look forward to reading it this week. Embroideries was checked out, but I did put a hold on it. Still amazed by how much can be conveyed in just a few words with graphics!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I so love Marjane Satrapi - all of her books, really. I imagine that they would be fun to discuss in a class, as they're so much to them. And it's funny, even though I don't usually pick up memoirs, I'm a sucker for graphic ones.

    ReplyDelete
  14. very cool that your daughter will be studying via PERSEPOLIS in the fall.

    I read, and learned a lot from, PERSEPOLIS; I agree, hard to say it's 'enjoyable'. PERSEPOLIS 2 is on my wish list, and EMBROIDERIES is on my shelf ...

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nymeth - I was really impressed by the amount of information and the depth of this book. Don't think I've encountered a graphic memoir quite like this.

    Dawn - Looking forward to Persepolis 2. Just got it from the library and also put Embroideries on hold.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yay for your daughter's professor including this in the reading list!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Fizzythoughts - My daughter actually told the prof I read this one, and I was invited to follow along with the online syllabus and class blog!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've been meaning to read Persepolis for ages, specially as one of the non-blogging readers of my blog has recommended it to me about twenty times!!

    I'll get 'round to it soon enough (!), and well, hopefully, it'll meet the expectations. I'm always a bit wary about the books the academic world chooses to study, so... :S

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails