Caleb's Reviews > The Complete Persepolis

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
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Oct 13, 11

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Read in December, 2007

so last night i finished persepolis by marjane satrapi, a graphic novel-style memoir about growing in iran to free-thinking parents in the 70's, 80's and 90's. i've seen it around at work without ever really giving it much attention, but since it is being made into a movie (limited release in the states on christmas), it's getting a lot of buzz. i read about it in some publication (i forget which, but no doubt a lesbian and/or feminist magazine) and it looked pretty interesting and like a quick read, so i picked it up. also: the frequency with which i am reading books right before they're released as movies is scaring me, but that is mildly irrelevant.
the book talks about how satripi copes with iran's transition from a tyrannical king to a fundamentalist muslim pseudo-democracy following a revolution in the late 70's, as well as its war with iraq in the early 80's. it's so interesting because it deals largely with how satrapi and her parents cope with a government who oppresses the people and kills the revolutionaries, some of whom are satripi's own family members. when she is a child, the family maid babysits her while her parents demonstrate at protests and as an early teenager she is sent to a boarding school in europe when her parents start to fear for her life after a combination of her mouth, intelligence and rebellious nature make it clear she could be a target for the governments' "guardians of the revolution", to whom many people disappear and never return. while in europe, on her own as a young adult, satripi tries to manage the seemingly difficult task of fitting in at her new german catholic boarding school while maintaining her identity and pride as an iranian. upon her return to iran, she finds her childhood friends attempting to appear as strong, young, westernized women but shun her when they learn of her own truly westernized ideas.
it's really just so fascinating to read about a culture that is so different on the streets than it is in the home, the way the characters (er, people) humor the government enough to get by while keeping a sense of self and quietly resisting what they know to be wrong. i have been tricked into believing that everyone in muslim countries is a radical fundamentalist who warmly welcomes their oppression hiding behind religion and culture, and now i know that that is not the case. i know that that is not the way things have always been. i know that there was a way to balance god and religion, and i am overjoyed to know that athiests, anarchists, feminists, liberals and so many other subversive peoples manage to exist in a situation that seems so helpless. it's just so refreshing to learn. it's a true testament to the human spirit.
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message 1: by Cam (new)

Cam I didn't read the complete version, but what I've read so far was equally enlightening. We pay so little attention to foriegn affairs in the U.S., all that gets through is the P.R. and propaganda or newsmedia sound bites. I've had a few bosses who were Iranian exiles or their kids, so I knew a little about the diversity, but Satrapi makes it so very real and personal at the same time. An easy recommend (now I just need someplace to do that!) Glad that you liked it, too, and found it eye-opening. I never know when I'm alone in my ignorance of other places and peoples!

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