Monday, March 22, 2010

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Genre: Graphic novel (memoir)
Publisher, Year: Pantheon Books, 2003
Other Works: Persepolis 2
Flags: Adult themes (violence), moderate language
Rating: A+, or Must Read Now!
Challenge: Library
Premise: A young girl lives in a turbulent world of war-torn Iran.

Another suggestion from Book on the Nightstand, I thoroughly enjoyed Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. And I believe this is the very first graphic novel I’ve ever read or reviewed! And I’m happy to report that it was a positive experience.

Persepolis chronicles the goings-on of a young girl in a turbulent country. The book covers the overthrow of the Shah, the Iranian revolution, and then eventually the war with Iraq. The reader gets a peek inside the life of a well-off family at the time and how events changed their lives and shaped their future, all through the eyes of a child. Marjane sees the protesting and rioting, the institution of the veil, the outlaw of Western influences, and eventually, the bombing of her hometown. +/-

What I loved about this book was how each event made sense to me as what a child would remember about their life. Even though she was experiencing things no child should have to, the things she remembers, down to little details, match her age, and I think it gives the work a real credibility. Not only that, but gives us the opportunity to see something like this from a new, real angle--which always provides enlightenment. At the same time, this book is clearly for adults, not kids.

I also really enjoyed the illustrations. I think this book is a perfect example of what a graphic novel should accomplish. The pictures were straight forward and simple (matching our narrator’s point-of-view) but imparted a well-rounded story that wouldn’t have been as developed with just words. This is such an interesting way to write a biography. Even though it is short and easy to read, I’m sure it took endless hours to whittle the story down to such concise perfection.

I found it an easy read, engaging, and interesting. It made me laugh, made me uncomfortable, and made me cry. I’m eager to read the second installment.

As a side note, Persepolis was made into a motion picture (French), and I am very interested to see it if I can track it down. They actually animated the original graphics, at which I was surprised and delighted. It looks amazing. Check out the website for the movie here.

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