Persepolis: Part 1 and 2

Monday, May 16, 2011

Persepolis 1: The Story of a Childhood
by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
by Marjane Satrapi

This graphic novel has been on my TBR list for far too long. I finally had a chance to read it and I was not disappointed. The first book covers the author’s childhood in war-torn Iran, while the second deals with her teenage and adult years.

It’s disturbing, but incredibly important, to be reminded of the freedoms we take for granted. Perhaps the scariest part of the book is realizing that they had those freedoms and they were revoked. I can’t fathom someone telling me I had to wear a veil all of a sudden when I’ve spent my life without one.

Everything from rock n’ roll posters to Michael Jackson CDs became illegal. The most controversial item of all was the any thinking that contradicted the regime’s belief system.

Satrapi’s spunk and defiance make her an irresistible child. We see the oppression creep into her life and understand it better than she can at first. Her wonderful parents teach her to stand up for her beliefs and she is surrounded by strong family members who do just that.

**Spoilers of the first book, but not the second**

At the end of the first book, Satrapi is sent to live in Austria without her parents. Thus begins her assimilation to western culture. When she eventually returns to Iran, this creates a dichotomy in her personality. She never felt truly at home in Austria, but when she’s back in Iran, she realizes she doesn’t quite belong there either.

The second book loses a bit of the magic of the first, just as growing up in the real world always does. Instead of an innocent child’s view of a violence and oppression, we have a young woman trying to figure out who she is all while being influenced by both western and eastern cultures. It’s more a coming of age tale than the first book.

“When we're afraid, we lose all sense of analysis and reflection. Our fear paralyzes us.”


Sandy Nawrot said...

In my quest to fully embrace graphic novels, I know these really need to be on my list. I'm not totally sure why I haven't read them yet...the only reason I can come up with is because maybe the library doesn't have them? I have specifically NOT seen the movie until I can get my hands on them though.

Kristi said...

I have been wanting to read these. I love the idea of books exposing me to areas of the world and cultures with which I'm not familiar, but in a non-info dump way. I'm so glad that you liked them.

I'm kind of tight and haven't wanted to put out the money to buy them and my library system has zero graphic novels except for actual comic book characters. I'll have to wait until I move back to the States :)

Jenners said...

I keep hearing about these books but never really had a grasp on what they were about. Thanks for finally making it clear to me!!! : )

I shall have to read these as I venture into the world of the graphic novel.

B said...

This was the first graphic novel I read and it forever changed my view on the genre. I absolutely loved it.

Jenny said...

Have you seen the film? It's rather charming: there's a really sweet scene of little bitty Marjane tromping around going "Down with the Shah! Down with the Shah!" That is basically all I remember of the film but I liked it, for sure.

BookQuoter said...

I was wondering if I should post the pictures instead of the quotes:), but thought against it. Great books, though.

Jillian said...

Although I'm not a huge graphic novel reader, I enjoyed these books. I also enjoyed the movie as well. Have you seen it?

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - I think you'd definitely like these!

Jenners - You'll have to dive into graphic novels soon. It's a fascinating genre.

Brenna - My first was Watchmen and then Maus. Both were amazing and really changed my opinion of the term "graphic novels."

BookQuoter - Using pictures instead of quotes, or maybe in conjunction with quotes is a great idea!

Jenny/Jillian - I have seen the film. I actually saw it before I read these. It was before I knew what graphic novels were and I didn't realize it was a book first. I did love the movie, it was beautifully done, but I wish I'd waited to see it until I'd read the books.

Mumsy said...

Have you read Reading Lolita in Tehran? There is this marvelous, painterly scene where the author's friends all arrive at her house in the anonymous, all-concealing bourqa, and then they each remove their bourqas and the reader sees the wild individuality of their own clothes me, a very powerful glimpse of both the oppressive power of the state and the indomitable human spirit.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Mumsy - I have read that and I remember that part! I always thought it would be so awful to have to hide everything unique about yourself, the way you look/dress/your interests, etc, except in the privacy of your own home. We are very lucky to have the freedom that we have in our daily lives.