I read Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi last fall after I had seen an article about the author in the October 20 issue of the Chicago Tribune. I have come across numerous reverences to the book in the following months. Currently reading another book about Iran, I keep remembering scenes from Persepolis. The book has staying power.
Satrapi was born during the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, more commomly known in the United States as simply the Shah of Iran. Her parents were educated,westernized elites, just the kind of people hurt by the Islamic uprising. The Shah fled the country and the author’s happy childhood turned quite terrible, as she and her family were in constant danger of being arrested for noncompliance with Islamic strictures. Extremist students took hostages at the American Embassy and Iraq invaded Iran. Many people she knew disappeared, died, or fled the country.
The most remarkable quality of Persepolis is its presentation as a graphic novel, a sort of black-and-white comic book. There is little that is funny, however. Satrapi uses her simple drawings to illustrate her story very effectively. Readers will not forget this book. Those who dare can also read Persepolis 2.
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. New York: Pantheon Books, c2003. ISBN 0375422307, paper 037571457x