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Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (Pantheon Graphic Novels) Paperback – August 2, 2005
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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; its nearly impossible to read Persepolis 2 without feeling warmth toward Marjane Satrapi. --Ryan Boudinot --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I only wish I understood politics a bit more, as that part of the story was a bit harder for me to comprehend. If you're in that same boat, I would recommend reading up a bit on Iran's political history to help with that.
"picture. A few words in a book. A flashback. That is all it takes for our memories to be triggered from their dormant existence in the quiet corners of our mind. It can be nearly 30 years later and much may fade away in this life but some memories are pertinacious. No sooner had I opened the first page of Satrapi's "Persepolis" that I remembered the first day returning home from school in Iran......"
I absolutely loved this book. I read it in 6 hours. I am moved and touched by the moving comic strips telling her compelling story. I will never forget. Thank you!
We are shown life through Marjane's eyes from her days in elementary school (even then she is a bit of a rebel, unwilling to wear the burka in the desert, though she is not alone here). Growing up in a society where social class and gender matter more than anything else, she feels genuine grief for her maid, who is doomed never to marry the neighbour she loves. Fortunate enough to evade the bullets through serendipity before the Shah's overthrow, she is forced to mature rapidly and learns that she must not blame children for the atrocities of their parents. Perhaps the most profound moral of her childhood tribulations is the price of freedom and the tragedy for those left behind, hoping, worrying and fearing for the fate of their loved ones who were imprisoned for being enemies of the state. Everyone living in the democracy must be grateful they are not suffering the fate of North Koreans.
Always, regrettably, the dark puppet-masters are omnipresent. Willing to aid despots in their quest for power, the common people are often forgotten and seen as expendable. With no means to resist armed police (or escape from a barricaded cinema), their insurrections are often easy to quell. Recurrent themes are the deadly chains of hatred, vengeance and bitter grief. Forgiveness is a laudable goal, and though Gandhi succeeded in his endeavours, one is always left wondering whether the cost in human lives was worthwhile. Was there a better way? Could the soldiers have been convinced or coerced to turn against their own oppressive regime if necessary?
Although told from Majane's perspective, the stories of her uncles, friends and extended families also receive their fair share of space. Each chapter of the first half reveals more of the history and culture of Iran in the 70s and 80s. No detail is omitted and the harsh realities of a country in the throes of anarchy are laid bare for readers to vicariously experience.
Her secondary education in Vienna enabled her to learn more about the world beyond Iran's narrow and artificial borders. Like Anne Frank's diary, as Marjane matures, so too does her writing style and vocabulary. Despite being a comic book, the latter half is full of text and can be quite vexing to slog through. The most poignant and tragic moment comes when Marjane rejects her homeland and chooses freedom over a patriarchal dictatorship.
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