Kirstie's Reviews > The Complete Persepolis

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
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May 21, 08

bookshelves: graphic-novels
Recommended for: people interested in Iranian and Middle East politics
Read in May, 2008

I think the history of Iran from the 1970s to present is one of the most muddled of all histories...it's very difficult to figure out what things were perpetrated by Iraq and what was a government oppressing and even killing its own people. What you end up having is an accumulation of anecdotes about the experience of survival which feels wrong in the context of history because they will, by nature, be subjective....However, this still seems more reliable than believing any of the propaganda put out by the government of Iran or our own. It's not uncommon that you can't put your trust with the political leaders to tell you the truth but I feel it even more so when it comes to Iran,


In some ways, the more books I read on the subject, the more confused I feel. Persepolis is about a girl growing up in Iran who takes some refuge in Austria and then returns for some time as an adult. It has to do with her sense of revolution and political fairness as well as her personal story of being a woman growing up in these times and under this oppressive rule. It shares some characteristics with Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi as both refer to the West for comparison points, take place for some portion at a university, and are from a female perspective about living in this area. Instead of addressing specifically literature, Persepolis dabbles more in the area of art, which is of course reinforced by the format of it being a graphic novel.


I should also say that there are some times in the book when I feel like Satrapi really struggles to gain a sense of what it means to be an Iranian and that makes for a more interesting novel. In some ways, this is about her coming of age and becoming more aware of how Iran fits in the world around her and what it means to be an Iranian. I also felt very conflicted trying to understand what the most common Iranian feels. For example, she makes a point while in Iran to have secret parties, attend protests, and try to show herself the way she is as best as she can get away with. Yet, the people around her seem as shunning as members of the military and gov't even though they are just common citizens. She makes a statement that she doesn't want Iran to be known as a country of fascists but it seems like she is in the definite minority in terms of still daring to express herself. It's very troubling though I suppose it should be as it goes along with the political turmoil but again, it's difficult to wrap your head around completely as what makes up a typical Iranian citizen.


Last, though I think the book is great to have on hand to refer to, I would recommend seeing the film over reading the book if you have to choose one...the film follows the book exactly and the illustrations on a grand scale are very beautiful and can be appreciated more.
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