Thursday, June 12, 2008
Persepolis: the story of a childhood by Marjane Satrapi
Book description: Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's . . . 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.
My thoughts: This was an interesting book. Graphic novels are not really my thing, but I found it an interesting way to combine history and autobiography into a story. Graphic novel memoirs are all the rage these days and I think this one led the charge.
It was a bit of a jolt for me to realize that Satrapi is only 5 years older than I am, but thinking about it, of course the Islamic Revolution happened when I was a little kid - it's not ancient history at all. And I actually wrote a research paper on the Islamic Revolution in high school, so I had a bit of interest in the subject and I learned more. For example, I wasn't familiar with the history of the Shah, how he was son of a soldier who wanted to overthrow the emperor and create a republic. I had thought he was a traditional king, "chosen by God" - as Marjane is taught in school.
I enjoyed the parts about her trying to be a "normal" teenager - wanting to wear jeans and listen to pop music. She seems to have been very fortunate that her parents were so progressive (my favourite part was them smuggling in Kim Wilde and Iron Maiden posters from Turkey for her) and that they were able to see far enough ahead to realize the best thing was to send her to Europe.
The stories that make up this book range from informative to funny to heartbreaking. Satrapi comes off as a very smart child who took to different doctrines - religious or political - with great zeal. Apart from the teenager-hood stuff, I found her rather hard to relate to.
While I don't necessarily agree with the uber-superlative reviews given to Persepolis by people like Philip Pullman and Gloria Steinem, I can see how this is an important book and I found it interesting, if not really my thing.
Somer at SomeReads
Bethany at B&b Ex libris
(If you've reviewed this book, feel free to leave a comment and I'll add you to the list.)