The Complete Persepolis
Marjane Satrapi, 2007
I don't read much biography or autobiography because I really like plot, and real life is often lacking in that. However, I'm very glad that I finally got to this work.
In case you've been living under a rock, Persepolis is a graphic novel relating the author's personal account of growing up in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution. This was one of those fantastic books that really made me think about how much I don't know, and how much I don't even know that I don't know.
The book starts when she is quite small, and follows her through war and destruction, through travel and return, from a child's understanding to an adult life.
One particularly striking bit was when she left to attend school in Austria, and seeing how many parents sent their children away once they saw what was happening to the country. She has a variety of typically teenage experiences in Austria, but the people she meets there seem to either glamorize or disbelieve her experience of Iran.
The most interesting part for me was when she highlighted the contrast between inner and outer life. On paper, people went along with rules about socializing, various parts of Islamic law, while in their homes, nearly everyone she knew was hosting parties, drinking, criticizing the government, wearing western clothing and living their lives however they wanted. It wasn't actually a surprise, but it's different to think “well, I'm sure that they are just people, with their own plans and lives and opinions” and to be reading actual description by someone who had the experience of living there.
The stylization of the art makes it easy to follow and the simplicity carries the emotional weight well.
Persepolis was made into a critically acclaimed animated movie. I haven't seen it yet, but I look forward to it.
I feel awkward judging a book that is actually a person's life story, but I easily give Persepolis
4 Stars – A Really Good Book
The Complete Persepolis is available on Amazon.com