lynnvariety's Reviews > The Complete Persepolis

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
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's review
Mar 11, 2008

really liked it
Recommended to lynnvariety by: Bust Magazine
Recommended for: everyone
Read in February, 2008

Persepolis is a memoir in graphic novel form, which describes the childhood and young adulthood of the author in Iran. Her story starts with the revolution that started when Satrapi was a young girl, and chronicles the drastic and now infamous changes that took hold of the country.

Satrapi was the daughter of a progressive, upper-middle-class, urban couple in Tehran, so this story is not the Story of All Iranians. However, I think readers can be transormed by a story that highlights the diversity and heterogeneity that is found in all countries. Satrapi's divergence from what the US media would have us believe about the culture and people of Iran is a lever that gets readers thinking about the humanity and indivuality of Iranians. (Just a thought: I feel Americans especially need this kind of lever, because we are so prone to seeing a person's individuality as what makes them human.) Once we start seeing Satrapi as a whole person who happens to be wearing a headscarf, we can start to see other Iranians -- the ones who weren't raised by Marxism and radical-political-prisoner uncles -- as whole people as well.

What's more, the story is very well-done. Its episodic format does not detract from the overall arc of events, which detail Satrapi's larger struggle with identity. Satrapi conveys clearly the paradox of how she can feel Iranian in an Iran that no longer resembles the homeland of her childhood. This conflict is not theoretical or academic, but personal, as we can see in Satrapi's deep attachment to her family and her city despite the crushing difficulty of being near them.

If you want more thoughts on the art and politics of Persepolis, you should pick up a copy of Bust Magazine from December 07, where there is a great interview of the author. Also, I've seen the movie, too, and it's really good -- worth seeing in addition to reading the book.
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