Miz Moffatt's Reviews > The Complete Persepolis

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
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Feb 15, 12

bookshelves: autobiographical, book-to-film, coming-of-age, graphic-novels, non-fiction, short-stories
Read in January, 2012

Originally posted on Across the Litoverse

The Complete Persepolis presents a candid, stark, and emotionally overwhelming account of a young girl's coming of age during Iran's Islamic Revolution in the late twentieth-century. As a young girl attending a secular French school prior to the revolution, Marjane Satrapi offers a chilling account of her sudden switch to a state-occupied education system, and showcases her family's efforts to teach the young girl to question her educators while still taking utter pleasure in attaining knowledge and guarding her dignity as a human being. As an adolescent, Satrapi was then sent to Vienna in a bid to gain a secularized education unavailable to her in Iran; however, once there, her devotion to her homeland is tested in the face of racism and outsiders who would deny her experiences of war. In the end, Satrapi returns to Iran only to find she must exile herself in order to attain the life she desires.

Satrapi's use of black and white inking was an excellent decision on her part—I often found the stark contrast between the two heightened the tension of certain moments, in particular the scenes depicting the most violent moments in her childhood (e.g. representations of massacre, the bombings of her home town, images of young boys sent to die with plastic "keys" to the afterlife, etc.) Also, I found Satrapi's paired-down language and blunt sentences were perfect throughout Persepolis. I was surprised how often a simple phrase could prick the tears from my eyes—I'm not one to cry over books, but I was nearly set over the edge a few times there. For instance, in the first part of Persepolis, the dual presentation of Uncle Anoosh's "bread swan" (literally, a swan fashioned from a piece of bread) gift to Marjane is heartbreaking: first, upon his release from prison, and once again as a memento given before his execution (70). Never have the words "star of my life" brought me so close to the waterworks… Definitely, Persepolis is a remarkable work with haunting moments that are bound to sit with readers for a long time coming.

Ideal for: Readers with a penchant for memoir-ish graphic novels and real life comic works; Scholars with a background in Middle Eastern studies who need a fresh perspective on Iran's Islamic Revolution; Fans of book-to-film adaptations; Teens in need of an eye-opening on the world out there.
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