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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Hardcover – April 29, 2003


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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood + Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 153 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375422307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375422300
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (317 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Satrapi's autobiography is a timely and timeless story of a young girl's life under the Islamic Revolution. Descended from the last Emperor of Iran, Satrapi is nine when fundamentalist rebels overthrow the Shah. While Satrapi's radical parents and their community initially welcome the ouster, they soon learn a new brand of totalitarianism is taking over. Satrapi's art is minimal and stark yet often charming and humorous as it depicts the madness around her. She idolizes those who were imprisoned by the Shah, fascinated by their tales of torture, and bonds with her Uncle Anoosh, only to see the new regime imprison and eventually kill him. Thanks to the Iran-Iraq war, neighbors' homes are bombed, playmates are killed and parties are forbidden. Satrapi's parents, who once lived in luxury despite their politics, struggle to educate their daughter. Her father briefly considers fleeing to America, only to realize the price would be too great. "I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?" he asks his wife. Iron Maiden, Nikes and Michael Jackson become precious symbols of freedom, and eventually Satrapi's rebellious streak puts her in danger, as even educated women are threatened with beatings for improper attire. Despite the grimness, Satrapi never lapses into sensationalism or sentimentality. Skillfully presenting a child's view of war and her own shifting ideals, she also shows quotidian life in Tehran and her family's pride and love for their country despite the tumultuous times. Powerfully understated, this work joins other memoirs-Spiegelman's Maus and Sacco's Safe Area Goradze-that use comics to make the unthinkable familiar.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Marji tells of her life in Iran from the age of 10, when the Islamic revolution of 1979 reintroduced a religious state, through the age of 14 when the Iran-Iraq war forced her parents to send her to Europe for safety. This story, told in graphic format with simple, but expressive, black-and-white illustrations, combines the normal rebelliousness of an intelligent adolescent with the horrors of war and totalitarianism. Marji's parents, especially her freethinking mother, modeled a strong belief in freedom and equality, while her French education gave her a strong faith in God. Her Marxist-inclined family initially favored the overthrow of the Shah, but soon realized that the new regime was more restrictive and unfair than the last. The girl's independence, which made her parents both proud and fearful, caused them to send her to Austria. With bold lines and deceptively uncomplicated scenes, Satrapi conveys her story. From it, teens will learn much of the history of this important area and will identify with young Marji and her friends. This is a graphic novel of immense power and importance for Westerners of all ages. It will speak to the same audience as Art Spiegelman's Maus (Pantheon, 1993).
Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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

While the drawings in the graphic novel are simple, the story is a moving one.
doc peterson
This book tells the story of a young girl growing up in Iran variously under the Shah and then the Ayatollah.
Seth J. Frantzman
This was the first book I read in comic book format and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
jennifer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

191 of 197 people found the following review helpful By Christian Hunter on March 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read Persepolis tonight.

I mean the whole thing. I started it after dinner, and just finished it at the 153rd page. For those of you who've read, or should I say "experienced" this work, that won't come as a surprise. For those of you who haven't, consider it a high-endorsement. I had other plans for my night...

..I also had my doubts about this work. Despite the rave reviews, I've never even read a comic book. That, coupled with the fact that at first glance, it seemed very...well, childish?

Oh the shame! Marjane Satrapi has created an apologetic convert out of me.

Persepolis is the story of one girls experience during the fall of the Shah of Iran, the ensuing Islamic Revolution (which included Stalin like "purges"), and war with Iraq. Only it's not told in plain text, but rather is a pictured in a comic book style.

A history buff myself, I have an above-average awareness of the historical goings on of that period. However, told in this unorthodox style, with pictures, through the creative and emotional eyes of a child, the "facts" gained a vibrance and color for me like never before. The human side of history had so much more meaning, and seemed to imprint a deeper and easier understanding in my mind than most accounts.

When I was thinking about what was so compelling about this book, I thought of Edward Tufte. He's a famous professor and scientist in the field of displaying information graphically. I went to a seminar by him once. He passionately explained the concept of neural bandwidth, and how most text and plain graphs don't take advantage of the massive processing power of our minds. The pictures in Persepolis, coupled with Marjane's rich historical account seemed to take advantage of that latent neural ability.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Rama Cont on July 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
PERSEPOLIS is a graphical autobiography of the author, who experienced the Iranian revolution and the Iran-Iraq war as a child in the 1970s and 1980s. It is told in the beatiful black and white graphical language of a comic strip where simple pictures communicate strong feelings, much better than words could.
But PERSEPOLIS is also the story or a whole generation of young Iranians, who left their land in the quest of better conditions during the post-revolutionary era. I belong to this generation myself and I totally identified with the experiences Ms SATRAPI went through- her childhood in post revolutionary Iran, her description of Iranian society at the time, her exile in Austria- also in the volumes 2 & 3 (which already appeared in French).
Though conceived as a comic book, the book has messages which are not childish in nature: the child, through the naiveness of her views, points out to many of the contradictions of Iranian society that adults are unwilling to face.
It is also one of the rare unbiased personal accounts of what happened in Iran at the time of ther evolution and as such, is an interesting document on this period of Iranian history.
(It certainly contains more information on Iran and its people than the junk broadcasted on most TV channels).
Some readers (including reviews posted here) criticize this book for not being a realistic description of Iran. Though I totally disagree with this criticism, the main point is that PERSEPOLIS is NOT a history book nor a sociological study. It is a story, the story of a childhood and the author has never claimed it to be otherwise.
I definitely recommend this book, first to all Iranians who live abroad, especially those who did not grow up in Iran and did not
experience the revolution, and then to all readers interested in getting a human, insider view of what Iranian society was like in the early 1980s.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
At last this gem reaches us in America, after raking in awards all over Europe. Not only is it a very timely and revealing peek inside daily life in Iran, it's also a very personal, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking slice of one remarkable girl's life. There really is nothing quite like it, it's true. I've given copies of it to all my friends, many of whom never read graphic novels or comic books, but they all agree: this is something special. It's not suitable for kids though, because of its depiction of torture and violence and other mature themes you might expect in a society under the yoke of fundamentalist islamic rule. But for everyone else, I highly recommend PERSEPOLIS.
This is an exceptional childhood memoir, that ranks with Angela's Ashes for its depth and authenticity. This one will be around forever.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Rieback on September 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In "Persepolis," Marjane Satrapi writes a fascinating and moving memoir of her childhood in Iran, a country torn by uprisings, war, and political and cultural upheaval. She has written this graphic autobiography as a testament to her beloved Iran and as a remembrance of those who have suffered, lost their lives, or fled their homeland due to war and oppression. She says that "One can forgive but one should never forget."

The story opens at Satrapi's birth under the Shah's regime, and follows her life through Iran's revolution, conversion to an Islamic regime, and war with Iraq. A precocious single child of progressive activist parents, she is a witness to the complications and contradictions of Iranian daily life, both private and public. She recalls the first day the girls are forced to wear the veil at school. Through a child's innocent eyes, she describes her fears of the imprisonment, torture, and execution of friends, family, and neighbors, as well as of the bombings, oppression, and harassment that have become part of the fabric of her life. In spite of the turmoil, the author is a typical adolescent who takes risks by obtaining forbidden rock star posters, attending parties, wearing jewelry and jeans, and arguing politics with her teachers. Above all else, she is a spunky and lovable child who looks for freedom wherever she can obtain it and manages to triumph over her restrictive surroundings.

The illustrations provide a simple but powerful depiction of the events in the author's life. Many of the drawings have a dream-like quality that accentuates the emotional impact of the joys, sadness, violence, and familial love that Satrapi experiences. This touching story reminds me of Hosseini's "The Kite Runner." I recommend both as excellent coming-of-age stories in tumultuous foreign settings.

Eileen Rieback
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