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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Hardcover – April 29, 2003
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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.
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The artwork itself was an amazing representation of her progression and self discovery in such dark times and horrible experiences. The artwork in time, especially nearing the end started to lighten up, however the constant overall tone is darkness, a twisted perception I believe is likely the result of living and growing up with war, oppression and death a constant companion.
The art style is completely unique to me, someone who reads lots of comics, manga and watches many forms of cinema. This dark style really drives the emotional, political, religious and human aspects of this person life experiences deep into my mind.
I'm not a huge fan of the graphic novel, but Persepolis and its sequel, Persepolis 2, I can recommend wholeheartedly. The illustrations are a stark black and white which set the perfect tone for this story of one woman's experience of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Satrapi's account of how the new theocracy affected her family and changed the course of her life is depressing, but fascinating. Many memorable characters (including herself!) are brought vividly to life despite the constraints of the graphic novel format, and Satrapi brings a wonderful wit and humor to this tale of woe that keep it from becoming too grim.
The first volume focuses on Satrapi's rebellious childhood and the integrity and courage of the extended family members who inspired her. One can only hope that Iran has many more girls like her who will ultimately be the downfall of the current misogynistic regime.
The second volume in Satrapi's coming of age tale begins with her family sending her to Europe to continue her education. Being away from her family for the first time, adjusting to a new culture, and struggling with the universal adolescent identity crisis are the focus here. There are painful moments, poignant moments and hilarious moments.
Over the course of the two volumes of Persepolis, Satrapi shows us her metamorphosis from rebellious child to crazy, mixed-up youth, to strong cosmopolitan woman. It's a great story in a beautiful package.
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.
I bought this book for my friend and hoped that she would have the same experience as me. The quality of the book was great and I received it in perfect condition in the mail.
"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!