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(Marzi #1-4)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,460 ratings  ·  202 reviews
“I am Marzi, born in 1979, ten years before the end of communism in Poland. My father works at a factory, my mother at a dairy. Social problems are at their height. Empty stores are our daily bread.I’m scared of spiders and the world of adults doesn’t seem like a walk in the park.”Told from a young girl’s perspective, Marzena Sowa’s memoir of a childhood shaped by politics ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Vertigo (first published September 3rd 2008)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,460 ratings  ·  202 reviews

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Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Let me just say how much I loved little Marzi. Her character is sweet, charming, and vulnerable, with a healthy dose of insecurity brought on by the culture of her environment and a mother who seemed to feel she had to bring Marzi up with an iron first. Marzi was just a normal little girl, watching as her parents stood in line for simple food staples, went to school with friends who had goods her family seemingly couldn't afford, and spent time with her country relatives, learning to store up fo ...more
Noran Miss Pumkin
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was a win from first reads give-away. It was an advanced copy=not for sale.

The story follows the trials and tribulations, as well as the joys, hopes, and drams of a girl growing up in Communist Poland, in the 1970's. I remember being about the same age at this time, and dreading the Red Menace, that plagued my grandparents' homeland. I thought how horrid it would be somewhere, where they decided what you would do, where you lived, and what you do when you grew up. The lines for scare f
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is another one I find really difficult to rate. I wouldn't describe it as touching, or moving, or exciting, though it can be some of those things at times. I'd most describe it as... interesting. It's delivered very plainly, and most of the vignettes are about everyday life. It's informative, but it's slice-of-life... so by its very nature, it's not super gripping. It's smart - it has a great eye for minor events that make statements, both to childlike Marzi, and on into today - but sometim ...more
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Yes, I'm biased as can be reviewing this wonderful graphic novel about a girl born at the end of the 1970s to live through the last decade of communism in Poland. Yes, I grew up in the same city of Stalowa Wola and shared so many similar experiences like time spent with relatives in the countryside, and being told that “children and fish don’t have a voice.” Despite this incredibly coincidental bias I will still congratulate Marzi for writing the story of her childhood with such a strong voice. ...more
This was so good!

I'm pretty startled that it took me so long to discover it.

Marzi grew up in Poland, and is just a few years older than I am (she was born in 1979).
I'm sure a million people have asked her "What was it like to grow up under communism?"*
This book seems to be her answer.

I really liked the approach of the book. Marzi's chapters are extremely episodic. She doesn't vary her panel layout at all - six panels per page, and each chapter is indicated with a heading above the panels on the
Lorenzo Berardi
Calling this book "The Polish Persepolis" as many did would not be fair.

What I like, apart from the book, is the story behind its genesis.
Let's take a French illustrator and a Polish woman with some writing skills. Let's call them Sylvain and Marzena. Then let these two fall in love with each other.

Visiting Marzena's country, Sylvain got interested in the childhood of his girlfriend and he asked her to remember those days. Marzena did it beginning with some apparently minor details related with
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An autobiography of Marzena Sowa in a graphic novel format- it was a very enjoyable read! This book details memories she had as a child growing up in Poland during the fall of the communist regime. It was very interesting to look from a child's perspective the various issues that plagued her young life- such as financial and political issues, ration cards, worker strikes, and long lines to purchase limited food items. I would definitely recommend this book. The story of young Marzi is fascinati ...more
Beata Malinowska
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
The autobiographical novel "Marzi" written by Marzena Sowa greatly depicts living in Comunist rule. Marzi is the main character in the novel, and through her eyes we can observe political and historical changes that are taking place in the 1980s Poland. Although on the each page of the novel we can notice the same six-panel layout, the story told from Marzi's point of view does not happen to be monotonous. Quite the opposite: the reader does not only get a sense of what are the changes that the ...more
Michael Scott
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who have lived or are living under a Communist regime.
My list of graphic novels depicting the horrors of daily life under a Communist regime is growing: after Pyongyang A Journey in North Korea, The Year of the Pioneer, Acum nu e momentul and other Romanian books by Mihai Stanescu, I found the wonderful memoir of Marzena Sowa, Marzi.

Overall, this is one of the best first-hand accounts of a survivor of those times, aided greatly by the visuals. Recommended for anyone interested in life under Communism and for anyone who's lived that nightmare. (I a
Skye Kilaen
Marzi is a memoir of growing up in communist Poland, with its hardships and political unrest. It's also the story of a little girl's family and friends, and the bright spots that keep them going. It's not overtly focused on the political, but Marzi grows into understanding what's going on around her. Especially when her father becomes active in the struggle for liberation. Even if you're not interested in history, though, this is an excellent memoir. Sowa was willing to lay many things bare, suc ...more
Fátima López Sevilla
I was born just months before the Berlin Wall fell in Spain from foreign parents, so all the stories about life under a state of war, communism, civil war, dictatorship... come to me from books, articles, TV and cinema and, sometimes, from friends whose relatives lived such years.

Thus, my knowledge about what happened in Eastern Europe is reduced to school books and such. As a fan of graphic novel memoirs, I find 'Marzi' a really good one, tender, bitter, innocent... but so easy to relate to too
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: moira-shelf
Yes, it's slow and "vignettes" is definitely the right term for this storytelling... but it was charming and true to the child's perspective. I enjoyed it very much. ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The world of graphic novels is not one I turn to often these days. When i was younger I read them a lot. As a dyslexic I was encouraged to do so as they figured few words would help with my learning to read. However I have long since given up the world of cape crusaders and men of Steele. For the most part it takes a lot o get my attention in this form of reading. The last being Mouse the tale of surviving the holocaust. So it was with only idle curiosity I happen to be flick through this secti ...more
Possibly aimed at the same audience (age-wise) as Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Marzi is an autobiographical recollection of Marzena Sowa's life growing up in communist Poland during the 80s. Her life is reflected in the dull, muted, grey colouring, full of queues and whispered angsts amongst adults against the state. Throughout, the young Marzi is desperate to find out the truth of the story behind their country but when she eventually does so, a part of her wish she had not known and w ...more
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel, memoir
Originally posted at http://littleapplebookworm.blogspot.c...

This simply but beautifully illustrated graphic novel tells the story of Marzi, a young girl coming of age behind the Iron Curtain. Marzena Sowa was born in 1979 in Stalowa Wola, Poland. The majority of this graphic novel, written as a series of vignettes, takes place in the years leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Ms. Sowa manages to demonstrate both the uncertainty of the time and the joys and wonder any child can fin
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a memoir about a young girl living in Communist Poland in the 1980s. I would give this book 5 stars for authenticity. The author captured her childhood experiences in vignettes of 2-4 pages, each one a little comic strip of daily life. I read the book in "bits and bites" over a month. Marzi (the character) was a three-dimensional person. I found myself irritated with her at times, just like I would be with a real child! I found the book had too much content about the minutiae of everyday ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
That was intense.

Marzi is an extremely heavytext biography of Marzena Sowa, born in 1979, in a factory city in Poland.

Enter Cold War in its last ten years. Life in Poland is harsh, as in any other Eastern Bloc's country. People go to buy things only with coupons and stay at queues for hours freezing hoping to buy something, from a sausage to new shoes. Because USSR used these countries as cheap labor.

In Marzi's town, the factory makes weapons and one day the workers start a strike. Among them, h
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Marzi's got a bit of a slow burn, because it's a series of vignettes only loosely tied together with narrative. What's nice about that is that it's easy to pick up and put down again if you only have small blocks of time to read. It does, however, reward he patient reader with a sense of time and place not necessarily connected to narrative, a sense of how one's own childhood connects with Marzi's--because so much of our own childhoods follow that nonlinear path. Sowa doesn't try to tie these ev ...more
Dec 03, 2011 rated it liked it
If you're expecting a story Maus or Barefoot Gen you'll be disappointed. Based off the book's pre-publishing publicity I was expecting something more like those two. A story of the writer's growing up during the beginnings and success of the Poland's Solidarity movement. Well, Solidarity appears around the halfway point, and becomes more of a focus towards the end as Marzi's father is one of Solidarity early supporters.

You do get a good view of young girl growing up in Poland during food and clo
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great story, pretty art, and a look at a place and time where things couldn't have been more different.
I could definitely connect with Marzi's confussion with the adult world and feeling left out. What kid didn't feel that way?
It also made me realize what a blessed childhood I had. I couldn't imagine living in a place where you had to stand in line for something as basic as toilet paper (not to mention food) and hope they still had some when you got to the front of the line.
Definitely something
Aug 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm ending my relationship with Marzi early. It's an interesting enough story, but I've realized by trying this one that I don't really care for graphic novels that are written and drawn by separate people. There was too much of a disconnect between the art and the writing in this one--too many words and too many pictures jammed on one page. With some good editing, Marzi's story might have held my interest longer. ...more
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Marzi is an important book in that it draws attention to the more recent history of Poland under Jaruzelski, Chernobyl and the Solidarnosc union, but also reminds that these were not simply notable points in history, but that actual people were trying to live normal lives. This alternation of the universal and the strange is perhaps Marzi’s best achievement.
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is fantastic slice of life series of stories. They are the reminiscences of Marzena Sowa from her childhood growing up in Poland during the late 1980s as Communism was falling in Eastern Europe. These are touching and insightful stories that warm your heart and give you a better understanding of the power of belief and perseverance.
Elizabeth A
May 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphix, 2012
I love graphic novels, but I did not love this one. This is memoir of a young girl in Poland, and I did find the backdrop of family and culture interesting. But the book as a whole did not suck me in.
James Kinsley
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in communist Poland, these vignettes from Marzena Sowa are an insight, both into the harshness of living behind the Iron Curtain, and the universality of the experience of childhood. Fabulous, and the sort of thing they should make available in schools.
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who like memoirs and chewing gum
Shelves: memoir
I am not sure why people compare this book to Persepolis. They are two very different books, and even the premise is really not similar. Marzi is about a child, and even at the end she is barely starting to be a young teenager. Persepolis is about a young girl who grows up, lives as a teenager, and leaves and comes back after living abroad as a young adult to Iran. Perhaps it is the childhood spent under oppressive regime thing that got people to compare these two books, or that they are both me ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
“I am Marzi, born in 1979, ten years before the end of communism in Poland, an only child who lives in a small industrial city.” Marzi is a memoir, it’s a graphic novel full of vignettes that show her point of view from her childhood, she talks about her living conditions and about her growing up in Poland before the end of communism. Marzi shows all her ups and downs growing up as a fugitive.

Marzi and her family lived on the fifth floor of a concrete apartment complex, she had many friends wh
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
I know next to nothing about the history of Poland except for that dark period in European history during WWII, so I had no idea what to expect from this tale of Marzena Sowa's childhood, but in the end it turned into a very nice read. Through the eyes of eight year old Marzi we learn a bit about what it was like living on the other side of the Iron Curtain in the late eighties, we see what the daily struggles were, be it simply fights with her friends and mother, or having to deal with the afte ...more
Dan Weiss
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. The storytelling is unique and the art is great. I have read accounts of pre-1989 Eastern Europe, but this collection of childhood stories really makes it come to life. In the setting of 1980s Poland, one which most of us only know by way of reporters' accounts and history books, very personal and sometimes quirky episodes remind us that children around the world are not so different from one another. So much in here reminded me of my childho ...more
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a peek on polish lifestyle particularly during the last 10 yrs of communism. it made me appreciate more what i have and not to complain what i dont have. being content is happiness.

one thing ive learned about polish is their very strong sense of religion. after all the wars that they have experienced, religion is the only thing that they can identify themselves with as their culture. it is also in the church that they could organize themselves to protest against communism. it was the only freedo
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Marzena Sowa is a Polish cartoonist. Since 2001, she has been living in France and Brussels. Sowa studied at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow and then at the Michel de Montaigne University in Bordeaux. Sowa is the author of the autobiographical comic Marzi, a series of comics about her childhood in 1980s-era Poland. She writes about life under communism, food shortages, and her childish escap ...more

Other books in the series

Marzi (8 books)
  • Marzi - Volume 3 - Rezystor
  • Marzi, Tome 4: Le Bruit des Villes
  • Marzi - Volume 5 - No Solidarity - No Freedom
  • Marzi, Volume 6, It just gets better (Marzi, #6)
  • Marzi Tom I. Dzieci i ryby głosu nie mają (Marzi, #1)
  • Marzi Tom II. Hałasy dużych miast (Marzi, #3-4)
  • Marzi 1989...

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“Anger and fatigue well up all over the country. Fall has arrives, with its biting winds, its long rainy evenings. The gloom matches our overall mood. It mirrors the minds of the adults. And we children absorb everything, we drink everything in without anyone noticing, until the moment we get squeezed. We're baby sponges, you can't just wring us out, you have to be careful what you soak us in. Even washed, rinsed, dried a hundred times over, traces still remain in us.” 2 likes
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