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The Complete Persepolis Paperback – Black & White, October 30, 2007
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"A memoir of growing up as a girl in revolutionary Iran, Persepolis provides a unique glimpse into a nearly unknown and unreachable way of life... That Satrapi chose to tell her remarkable story as a gorgeous comic book makes it totally unique and indispensable."
About the Author
Marjane Satrapi was born in Rasht, Iran. She now lives in Paris, where she is a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers throughout the world, including The New Yorker, and The New York Times. She is the author of Embroideries, Chicken with Plums, and several children's books. She cowrote and codirected the animated feature film version of Persepolis.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book itself was pretty interesting. The author grew up in Iran and Austria, both with and without her parents - being homeless at one point, so she had an interesting upbringing. But I'm not sure overall what to think of the concept of a biographical novel, assuming this is representative of the genre. It feels like it's a book made up of soundbites, so it just didn't grab me like a normal novel would. But the story itself it pretty fascinating. What a wild and interesting life. If you want to get a taste of the book, check out Satrapi's blogs in the NY Times. If you find the graphic blogs interesting, which I did, you will likely find the book worth reading.
Satrapi, M. (2007) The complete Persepolis. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.
After reading Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir, Persepolis, I believe it is in the best interests of our students to add the book to our available reading list. Persepolis is Satrapi’s account of growing up during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) that almost immediately followed the Iranian Revolution (1979). Satrapi is an Iranian woman who left Iran to attend high school in Vienna, later returned to Iran to marry, and eventually moved to France where she wrote Persepolis. The memoir serves as a bildungsroman for Satrapi, covering her life as she leaves primary school and enters high school; we see Satrapi grappling with the woman she wants to become in light of where she comes from. Persepolis also serves as a piece of literary historical non-fiction because the backdrop of Satrapi’s coming of age is amidst a pivotal point in Iranian (and Iraqi) history, and this history is central to the plot line of Satrapi’s memoir. Persepolis has also won a fair share of awards. It was a New York Times notable book, Times Magazine’s “Best Comix of the Year” (2004), and a best-seller across the country. The book, originally written in French, was adapted into film, and the film version won the Cannes Jury Prize, the César award for best writing, the César award for the best first feature film, and the Sutherland trophy. The film adaptation was also nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature film.
Despite the accolades both the film and graphic memoir received, Persepolis is in the top 10 of the American Library Association’s 2014 “Frequently Challenged Books” list. The ALA informs us that the rationales that have been provided for banning the book include gambling, offensive language, and its political viewpoint. The ALA also says that Persepolis has been called “politically, racially, and socially offensive” and that it has “graphic depictions.” There is truth to these claims. Persepolis takes place as Satrapi grows up amidst the Iran-Iraq war. War, by its very nature, brings about political viewpoints that some students and their parents may disagree with. The book also contains offensive language, and portrays the ramifications of war and includes “graphic depictions” as a result. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in its guidelines on “The Students’ Right to Read” (2012), argues, “Literature about ethnic or racial minorities remain ‘controversial’ or ‘objectionable’ to many adults…. “Though nominally, the criticisms of racial or ethnic literature have usually been directed at ‘bad language, ‘suggestive situations,’ ‘questionable literary merit,’ or ‘ungrammatical English,’ the underlying motive for some attacks has unquestionably been racial.” Using the coded language the NCTE provides, we can see that the reasons given to the ALA as evidence supporting a book ban and/or challenge appear racial. The complaints do not say, “We should ban this book because it is about an Iranian woman,” but the codes found in words like “offensive” point to a racially-based book ban.
This kind of censorship is inappropriate and unfair to our students, who deserve to have historical events contextualized in multiple forms (movies, graphic novels, novels, short stories, documentaries, and art to name a few forms) and to have students from multiple cultures represented in texts. English Language Arts programs is, “…not one instructional resource, but many; not one curriculum objective, but several” (Guidelines for selection of materials in English language arts programs, 2014). The use of Satrapi’s text allows for many objectives to be met simultaneously:
1. It is historical non-fiction, which allows it to be taught as an informational text rather than as literature. It is also naturally interdisciplinary, which allows for and encourages complementary teaching across Social Studies and English Language Arts classes.
2. It is beautifully written. Even though it is classified as an informational text, many of the literary devices English Language Arts teachers long to discuss can still be discussed.
3. As a graphic narrative, it can be taught to students who read at a wide range of Lexile levels. Visual learners will also benefit. Its graphic form also allows it to become a “high-interest” text when it probably wouldn’t be in other circumstances
4. As a historical narrative covering the Iran-Iraq War from the perspective of an Iranian woman, it meets the Common Core Standard for “diverse cultures.”
5. As a memoir written by a woman, it allows educators to disrupt the male-centered curriculum so often seen in classrooms across the country
6. Persepolis can easily be included in a text set with other texts. It can be used in a unit on war, the Iran-Iraq War specifically, women in the Middle East, women’s rights, and fights for freedom.
Depending on the instructional context used by the instructor, Persepolis can meet many curriculum needs simultaneously, while widening the worldview of American-centric readers. In schools with high populations of immigrants and refugees, Persepolis helps provide a face that is often much more like theirs in a sea of literature dominated by dead white men.
As with any highly-challenged book, it is probably always a good idea to send parents a permission slip in advance that provides them with 1) an opportunity for their student to do an alternate assignment instead 2) a rationale for why you believe the text is worthy of study and 3) reasons why the book is challenged. It’s certainly possible that parents will balk at the idea of their children reading a book that some consider “offensive,” but I have faith that with simple explanations and the ability to change their mind, the vast majority of your students will be able to read texts as important as Persepolis.
If you're searching for a book to really be moved by or just to really learn about someone's own moving personal story, I would recommend this one. The art, the story and overall her heart moving experiences does more than enough to capture a reader in and truly gain another perspective of life.
The condition of the book that I received was new and lovely. I purchases the cheaper Paper-Back but it not by any means cheaped out. Fast delivery to with Prime. A complete 5 stars from me! Money well spent.