Reading Experience 2011 book
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis
is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking 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.
Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in
Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public
life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual
spirit. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors,
state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to
learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own
extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and
wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a
stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It
shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of
absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl
with whom we cannot help but fall in love.
--synopsis from Random House
From Publishers Weekly
Satrapi's autobiography is a timely and timeless story of a young girl's life under the Islamic Revolution. Descended from the last Emperor of Iran, Satrapi is nine when fundamentalist rebels overthrow the Shah. While Satrapi's radical parents and their community initially welcome the ouster, they soon learn a new brand of totalitarianism is taking over. Satrapi's art is minimal and stark yet often charming and humorous as it depicts the madness around her. She idolizes those who were imprisoned by the Shah, fascinated by their tales of torture, and bonds with her Uncle Anoosh, only to see the new regime imprison and eventually kill him. Thanks to the Iran-Iraq war, neighbors' homes are bombed, playmates are killed and parties are forbidden. Satrapi's parents, who once lived in luxury despite their politics, struggle to educate their daughter. Her father briefly considers fleeing to America, only to realize the price would be too great. "I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?" he asks his wife. Iron Maiden, Nikes and Michael Jackson become precious symbols of freedom, and eventually Satrapi's rebellious streak puts her in danger, as even educated women are threatened with beatings for improper attire. Despite the grimness, Satrapi never lapses into sensationalism or sentimentality. Skillfully presenting a child's view of war and her own shifting ideals, she also shows quotidian life in Tehran and her family's pride and love for their country despite the tumultuous times. Powerfully understated, this work joins other memoirs-Spiegelman's Maus and Sacco's Safe Area Goradze-that use comics to make the unthinkable familiar.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Marji tells of her life in Iran from the age of 10, when the Islamic revolution of 1979 reintroduced a religious state, through the age of 14 when the Iran-Iraq war forced her parents to send her to Europe for safety. This story, told in graphic format with simple, but expressive, black-and-white illustrations, combines the normal rebelliousness of an intelligent adolescent with the horrors of war and totalitarianism. Marji's parents, especially her freethinking mother, modeled a strong belief in freedom and equality, while her French education gave her a strong faith in God. Her Marxist-inclined family initially favored the overthrow of the Shah, but soon realized that the new regime was more restrictive and unfair than the last. The girl's independence, which made her parents both proud and fearful, caused them to send her to Austria. With bold lines and deceptively uncomplicated scenes, Satrapi conveys her story. From it, teens will learn much of the history of this important area and will identify with young Marji and her friends. This is a graphic novel of immense power and importance for Westerners of all ages. It will speak to the same audience as Art Spiegelman's Maus (Pantheon, 1993).
--Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA