Hilda's Reviews > The Complete Persepolis

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
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Jan 21, 08

Read in September, 2007

I read these books consecutively - in fact I bought them as a box set - and I really enjoyed them. It gives us a genuinely intimate portrait of what life was like growing up in Iran, first under the Shah's right-wing dictatorship, then during the Islamic revolution which led to a clerical state and through the war with Iraq. The two-part memoir takes us from 1980 when Marjane was 10 years old through the 1990s when she's become a woman who had endured exile at a young age and a return to her country.

Because these are illustrated novels there isn't as much depth as there would be in a traditional novel. The characters aren't fleshed out in the narrative because we have the visual element available. And the visual element is wonderful. Through the relatively simple drawings the fear, turmoil, frustration and even humor of Marjane and her friends and family are easily identified and enrich the story tremendously.

At first I had a problem with the writing style. Having just read "Middlesex" which is filled with nuance and a more complex writing style, the direct and simple prose of the Persepolis books were a huge contrast. However, the more I read the more I became comfortable with the style, pacing and rhythm.

I would definitely recommend that these books be read together as a valuable introduction an overview of the history and traditions of Iran, as well as for the wonderful story of a little girl growing up in an impossibly complex and frightening environment.
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