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Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (Pantheon Graphic Novels) Paperback – August 2, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Picking up the thread where her debut memoir-in-comics concluded, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return details Marjane Satrapi's experiences as a young Iranian woman cast abroad by political turmoil in her native country. Older, if not exactly wiser, Marjane reconciles her upbringing in war-shattered Tehran with new surroundings and friends in Austria. Whether living in the company of nuns or as the sole female in a house of eight gay men, she creates a niche for herself with friends and acquaintances who feel equally uneasy with their place in the world.

After a series of unfortunate choices and events leave her literally living in the street for three months, Marjane decides to return to her native Iran. Here, she is reunited with her family, whose liberalism and emphasis on Marjane's personal worth exert as strong an influence as the eye-popping wonders of Europe. Having grown accustomed to recreational drugs, partying, and dating, Marjane now dons a veil and adjusts to a society officially divided by gender and guided by fundamentalism. Emboldened by the example of her feisty grandmother, she tests the bounds of the morality enforced on the streets and in the classrooms. With a new appreciation for the political and spiritual struggles of her fellow Iranians, she comes to understand that "one person leaving her house while asking herself, 'is my veil in place?' no longer asks herself 'where is my freedom of speech?'"

Satrapi's starkly monochromatic drawing style and the keenly observed facial expressions of her characters provide the ideal graphic environment from which to appeal to our sympathies. Bereft of fine detail, this graphic novel guides the reader's attention instead toward a narrative rich with empathy. Don't be fooled by the glowering self-portrait of the author on the back flap; it’s nearly impossible to read Persepolis 2 without feeling warmth toward Marjane Satrapi. --Ryan Boudinot --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Part one of Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel found her surviving war, the Islamic Revolution, religious oppression and the execution of several close friends. If part two covers less traumatic events, it's also more subtle and, in some ways, more moving. Sent by her liberal, intellectual parents from Tehran to Vienna to get an education and escape the religious police, rebellious but vulnerable teenage Satrapi learns about secular freedom's pitfalls. Struggling in school, falling in with misfits and without a support group, she ends up dealing drugs for a boyfriend and eventually finds herself homeless on the streets. Forced to return to Iran, Satrapi must once again take up the veil, but learns to live within the constraints of her native land, which border on the surreal. For instance, while Satrapi's racing to catch a bus, the religious police tell her to stop running so her bottom doesn't make "obscene" movements. "Well, then, don't look at my ass!" she angrily responds. The book's cornerstone is her relationship with her parents, who seem to have enough faith in her to let her make the wrong decisions, as when she marries an egotistical artist. Satrapi's art is deceptively simple: it's capable of expressing a wide range of emotion and capturing subtle characterization with the bend of a line. Poignant and unflinching, this is a universally insightful coming-of-age story.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Pantheon Graphic Novels
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (August 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375714669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375714665
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969 in Rasht, Iran. She grew up in Tehran, where she studied at the French school, before leaving for Vienna and Strasbourg to study decorative arts. She currently lives in Paris, where she is at work on the sequel to Persepolis. She is also the author of several children's books.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Almost a generation after Art Spiegelman's Maus showed comic books can pack more punch than words alone. Persepolis is the closest thing from you'll ever see from Maus. Both are amazing literary works portraying extraordinary real lives witnessing history unfold. Both done by chain-smokers.

At the end of the first Persepolis I cried. I can't remember a regular book that gave me such emotion before, if ever (I also cried at Maus).

As an immigrant, I identify with Sartrapi more than with any author I've ever read. Maybe because her experiences with loneliness, heartbreak and xenophobia are so vivid they just jump out of the pages.

One thing that's very evident in every page of the book is her immense patriotism. Her country is as part of what she is as much as her family. Thank God for that, because now there's a point of view of Iran little known to Westerners. And it's available in your bookstore. As a comic.

My highest recommendation. Run to get a copy. I hope publishers now realize this art form is here to stay.
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Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has read Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood has undoubtedly looked forward to reading any future material from this talented author/artist. Marjane Satrapi possesses a unique skill of profound biographical storytelling and inventive artwork. In her first graphic novel Satrapi remarkably recounted her childhood of growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. Her liberal middle-class parents helped shape her perceptions of the world and encouraged her to reach her potential regardless of the multiple barriers that limit her everyday choices and actions. It quickly becomes apparent that Marjane is deeply proud of her country but simultaneously saddened by the actions of the fundamentalist Islamic government.

PERSEPOLIS 2: THE STORY OF A RETURN picks off where Persepolis 1 ended. Marjane is sent by her parents to study in Vienna, Austria to escape the bombings and uncertainty of the Iran-Iraq War. As she integrates herself into her new life she experiences a sense of lost identity as she straddles between the West and Iran. Her steadfast pride of being Iranian continues in the face of prejudice and misinformation. Although she has physically grown up her intensity remains.

I was very fortunate to meet Marjane Satrapi at a book reading two nights ago. She is both articulate and compassionate about her life and her perceptions of current geopolitical events. Also, she was very funny and had the audience laughing many times at her varied quirkiness. Her life story is inspirational and sticks with you long after her books are put back on the shelf. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
the persepolis books (I & II) are more than the life of an iranian girl told in comic form; they're also the story of an artist finding her self in a globalized society. marjane satrapi saw the worst of the islamic revolution as a child, and eventually her parents sent her to convent school in vienna to escape. but from the brittle moralisms of the nuns to the ban on nude models in art classes, marjane makes it more than apparent that the west doles out more than its share of senseless, self-serving rules and regulations.

satrapi wrings every bit of irony, humor, and pathos out the combination of first person narration and graphics. her characterizations are always clear but never cliched and her break-neck narrative style (growing 2 feet in three small frames) depends on both text and graphic for meaning. most importantly we are watching the artist learn how to become an artist, looking at the development not only of a singular spirit but also of a globalized sensibility. satrapi owes as much to iranian storytelling as she does to western graphic art, and it's no surprise that her books (like most comics) are easily translated and easier to digest in translation.

if satrapi's form travels well, her narrative travels even better. frame by frame, page by page, satrapi struggles first to do what she wants and then just to survive. between the crummy boyfriend and the marijuana smoke, the informers and the morality police, a self takes shape. part western teenager, part islamic mystic, satrapi is a true hybrid, something entirely different than her antecedents. her story is not about east or west, north or south, pictures or words, but about integration; the struggle of every young person caught between innnocence and the hate machines we know as political structures. a portrait of the artist without borders, persepolis II is its own war on terror, fought with pen and ink and dedicated to brave hearts and free spirits everywhere.
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Format: Hardcover
DON'T READ THIS BOOK (Story of a Return) UNLESS YOU'VE ALREADY READ THE FIRST PERSEPOLIS (Story of a Childhood). It's important to bond with the child Marjane and to understand where the characters are coming from before heading into this book. Also, the first one is essentially perfect, which can be said about so few books.

/*SPOILERS BELOW*/

The Story of a Return provides insight into modern Iranian culture, the effects of the Iraq-Iran war, and the differences between the West and Iran as Marjane repeatedly integrates herself into an unfamiliar land. (Iran may be home, but it's strange to her when she returns.) We also witness the slurs and descrimination she endures as a Middle Easterner in Europe, and it induces brings a deep sense of horror in the reader on Marjane's behalf.

Some find the second book equal to the first. I disagree. It is no fault of the author's; she applies equal skill and talent to both books. The material is fundamentally different. The Story of a Childhood has a child's and pre-teen's whimsy flowing through it, and the characters are still relatively innocent and opimistic despite the path of the country. In The Story of a Return, the author tries to include some of the imaginings that brought such a charming whimsy to her first memoir, but it is harder with an older main character. The humor has to come from elsewhere, and is therefore harder to find. Her experiences seem harsher to the reader, since she is experiencing them directly, instead of the close calls or indirect experiences of the first Persepolis. And because Marjane is older, we become more judgemental of her mistakes, which also darkens the tone of the book.

Well worth reading, but one feels a sense of loss when comparing it to the first.
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