Ali's Reviews > Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood & The Story of a Return

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
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Mar 03, 12

Read from February 28 to March 03, 2012


Chosen by my book group I can honestly say it is not a book I would have gone where near otherwise. My first experience of a graphic novel, this has been an interesting reading experience for me but probably one I am unlikely to repeat. As a reader I love language – I love description and clever wordsmithery (not sure if that’s not a real word?) I like blocks of text. None of those things are really present in a graphic novel. I found the size of the print a big problem for me with my poor eyesight too. I actually gave myself quite a headache while reading it.
So as a graphic novel virgin – I’m not sure I am qualified to write a decent review, as it is a different medium, and an art form that I have no previous experience of so all I can do is recount my reactions to it.
This book is the complete Persepolis – the story of a childhood and the story of a return.
Marjane comes across strongly as an intelligent feisty young girl/woman who becomes really quite politicised; with a rebellious streak. From a fairly young age she is forced to become all too aware of the things that are happening in her country. She is the daughter of outspoken Marxists, the great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor. The story re-creates the everyday life of Marjane’s family, after the fall of the Shah and during the rise of the fundamentalist regime. Marjane is instantly a character that is easy to identify with she is adored by her parents and has a touchingly close relationship with her parents and grandmother. She quickly learns to separate her public and private self, but she also learns to rebel in small ways – and her parents begin to fear for her rebellious nature. At 14 Marjane is sent to Austria – where she must learn a greater independence away from her parents. The second part then relates Marjane’s four years in Austria, her confusion over who she is and her later return to Iran when is 18.
I was surprised at how this graphic style manages to covey the emotions and upheavals of Marjane as she grows up. The simple stark black and white images are powerful, perfectly conveying the fear, tension and rigidity of the regime.
I found Marjane’s story compelling and a fascinating insight into the Iranian way of life. However I didn’t enjoy the process of reading this – the print was too small for to read comfortably and I missed prose. I did feel though that I liked Marjane enormously and think she is very brave – her book is marvellously honest and for that alone she should be commended. It was an interesting book to read though for many other reasons, I learned a lot about Iran for a start – and I am glad I have had the chance to read something I would never have picked up if not for my book group. I am looking forward to the discussion of it on Wednesday evening.
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