N.T. Embe's Reviews > Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
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Oct 06, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: graphic-novels
Recommended to N.T. by: Comics and Graphic Novels (Class)
Recommended for: People who enjoy experiencing another's cutlure from an intimate point of view.
Read on October 06, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

There are many things that could be said about this book. I was having a hard time figuring out whether I was going to like it or not at first. But that was before I actually opened it up and began reading it. After I crossed the threshold and just delved right into the writing, it took two or three pages and I was fully immersed. This is a graphic novel that doesn't have much to say for itself in relation to the art-style, though I could endeavor to explain it, but its main character, who is writing Persepolis as an autobiography, is the driving force behind this entire story--her story.

It's her childhood, written about growing up in Iran, going through the revolutions and the wars that soon after the 1980s began to ravage the region, and what it did to its people there. This is a story that very often I wouldn't turn an inch for or spare a second glance to, and yet perhaps it's because it was in the form of a graphic novel that I was able to sit down and allow myself to entertain a subject so normally distant from my interests. Not that I'm not a follower of politics, but that for the most part, I enjoy taking breaks from reality with what I read. It's a preference I've mentioned a handful of times before in some of my reviews.

But Persepolis was different, in almost every aspect. Yes, it had the political and cultural aspects of Iran unfolded page by page for me to understand. But it was a tale of experiences gone through by a child as it grew up surrounded by things it understood, and how those natural and normal everyday privileges, occurrences, and freedoms were slowly infringed upon and taken away. It's intriguing and moving, it speaks to you like a book right out of the Dystopian genre, and yet it's shockingly, veritably real. And that's what brings its value and its momentous impacting force directly to its readers. Nothing about it sounds like anything I'd want to read about for fun or even for the experience. But that's the surprise--that's the clincher: it is an experience, and one that absolutely should be taken up by anybody. Though we don't understand everything perhaps, though we may have preconceptions about "the Middle East" or "Iran" and so forth, this is one of those masterful pieces of literature that gives us a deeply empathetic look into the reality of things and how they steadily unfolded into many of the events that are still driving us and affecting us today on an everyday basis, whether we realize it or not.

It's something of a wonder to me too, who was still young when we had 9/11 happen here in the U.S., to read about how even in the Middle East, in Iran as Marjane Satrapi unfolds for us, things are so far from what we knew.... Scariest part, is she had started writing this way before 9/11 happened. And it was published here in the U.S. just barely a year after the terrible day. I wish as a kid, and even more, as a teenager, and now--ten years later--that I had been given a chance to pick up a book like this. To be able to sit down and read something where I could understand and empathize with these peoples across the globe who were suddenly thrown into stark and stereotyped perspectives for me. I wish I had Persepolis to show me that these peoples were the victims of their own governments, and they suffered terribly too. Because even though I'm no fool and do not hate a people--or hate a country, or a culture, or a religion, or what have you--simply because of what a select group of people in a population carried out against the United States... it would still have been wonderful, and a relief to my soul, to know that propaganda did not have the greatest impact. That I could reach out onto my bookshelf and find a soul like my own, who had gone through things so, so, so much worse than I had, even though my life could have been completely desecrated by the events of 9/11....

*Pauses to hold back the tears as best as possible*

...9/11 was an immensely personal occurrence for me, and I will never forget that day as long as I live. For your benefit, my Readers, I was in that wider group of peoples that was near New York City the day it happened. And it will forever be a hugely personal part of my life.

...it brings me relief, and a type of closure that I found hard to find anywhere else, to read Satrapi's book, and to know that here, here I had someone who I could hold close to my heart, who I could empathize with, whose experiences I could share and relate to, and support. ...that was a tremendous gift. And even though this is a very, very new piece of literature, not having been out in the U.S. for even ten years now, it's a wonderful piece that should absolutely be given a chance. Whether or not we agree with everything, whether or not I approve of all the things mentioned, I was able to truly enjoy this reading, and, always most importantly for me: to understand it.

Marjane Satrapi did her people, her country, and us a great thing by giving us her experiences firsthand like this. Although there are three other volumes I believe written after this one, I treat this volume, at least, as a gift. I'm truly glad I invested in it, and I hope my feelings will be found to be echoed. Like I said, I don't agree with all the things written there. I'm a very politically minded person, but... I appreciate this work, and I think many others would really enjoy it as well if they gave it a shot. So Readers, give this one a chance! It's really worth the time, and I think you'll come out a little more enriched for the experience it gives you.
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Reading Progress

10/06/2011 page 0
0.0% "Why is page count always off for these things? Anyway! Here's to hoping I really enjoy this one! From what I've been told, it's a ground-breaking graphic novel that's been taught in many schools since it came out! And that doesn't happen very often at all, so I'm really excited to see what's going on in it. <3"
10/06/2011 page 0
0.0% "Wow... that introduction.... This woman, our authoress, must have used that phrase when she wrote that intro in 2002, specifically because of 9/11... *Muses quietly* I half wonder what I'm getting myself into with this."
10/06/2011 page 4
3.0% "Geez. That sucks. :< Bilingual schools need to be shut down? -3- ...murrr."
10/06/2011 page 8
5.0% "Seriously? The teacher came to the parents and said that she was disturbed because she wanted to be a prophet? -3- Listen, reality hits hard at some point, but that's overstepping the line a little. You don't say things like that, no matter how nutty a kid's wishes are. They're KIDS for crying out loud!"
10/06/2011 page 13
8.0% "Err... No offense, but I think she got Descartes wrong. '_' Though I get the point, she kinda half-hearted the description. -3- Though it is a funny joke. Maybe it's just cause I don't like Marx. <3"
10/06/2011 page 28
18.0% "Dude, I love that image. Of the Shah praying at the grace of Cyrus the Great, and Cyrus under the earth just STARING up at him all "D:<" like. XD"
10/06/2011 page 53
33.0% "Er... That's a little contradictory, doncha think? -3-;; If you're saying you're supposed to forgive and then you turn around and say, "They'll pay!" then you're not really upholding the same values."
10/06/2011 page 59
37.0% "*Splutters!* Russians don't know how to love?! D8 That's a little harsh, don't you think?!"
10/06/2011 page 73
46.0% "Geez... closing down the schools for two years to revise what's taught in them... Perfect way to brainwash people and new generations...."
10/06/2011 page 74
46.0% "...monsters. Using rape as a tool to get women to wear veils. D:< GAH."
10/06/2011 page 86
54.0% ""I wish he were alive and in jail rather than dead and a hero." ...those are powerful words... *Lowers her head in respect* ...I don't blame that girl for feeling so about her father. It's... too much."
10/06/2011 page 105
66.0% "...he got lashed with whips, 75 times because he had cards, chess, cassette tapes and other normal things? ...good God. VICIOUS. *Narrows eyes* ...monsters."
10/06/2011 page 115
72.0% "What lies and bull is that? "To die a martyr is to inject blood into the veins of society." Thanks, but I don't give a rip about society that much. D:<"
10/06/2011 page 116
73.0% ""They eventually admitted that the survival of the regime depended on the war. When I think we could have avoided it all... it just makes me sick. A million people would still be alive." <-- Speaks for itself."
10/06/2011 page 146
91.0% "...they took a teenage girl, working "against" the government, had her married to one of the men, raped, and then executed her, as the "laws" of their country do not allow you to harm a virgin, and she must be married first. ...then they sent the equivalent of $5 to the parents as a form of "dowry"... to let them know what they had done. *Stays silent for a long time* ...monsters."
10/06/2011 page 153
96.0% "It's done. It's the first book in a small quarto, I believe, so it ends very abruptly. But at the same time... I really, really enjoyed this read. It was an amazing book. But, I guess I'll save that for my review now~"

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Rain (new)

Rain Misoa Now this sounds fascinating. I wouldn't mind reading something of this nature. Graphic novel or not! I shall borrow it from you when you come to visit. Bring as many good books as you can! I'm going to eat them all up! XD


N.T. Embe Just let me know which ones you want! Looks like I'll have to tote a completely separate bag just for books for you! XD


message 3: by Rain (new)

Rain Misoa Well, you know me~ I live to read~ XD And yeah. I do have a list of books that I know you have that you should totally bring over. >:3


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