34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2006
I am not typically a big fan of graphic novels but the work of Joe Sacco took my breath away when I was in college so it was with glee and expectation that I took this book up.
Its superb. Comics are considered juvenile. I am utterly convinced, as a result of this book, that the graphic novel is a great vehicle for discussing the most serious and sombre of topics. The contrast between the simple drawings and the complex events they represent create a balance so that you can read the saddest things without being weighed down.
That having been said, the moving tale of an independent young woman's maturation in and out of post-revolution Iran moved me to tears at some points. I have an insight into the country that countless documentaries or news articles about President Ahmadinejad or Ayatollah Khomeini couldn't give me.
I strongly recommend it to everyone. It will be an eye-opening education.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2008
This is a simply told story that touches on some very big ideas; the Islamic revolution; loyalty and family; and which boys you should fancy.
The main character is charming, naive, sympathetic and occasionally annoying - in other words, a very convincing young woman.
A fantastic read, especially if you think you don't like comic books!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2008
A graphic novel that serves as the autobiography of author Marjane Saptrapi. I read the complete edition which contains "The story of a childhood" and "The story of a return". Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969 in Iran during the Shah's reign. During her lifetime she has witnessed first hand the takeovwe by the Revolution, the war between Iran and Iraq and the compulsary wearing of the veil by all woman in Iran. Her parents were very liberal and she grew up with an immense curiosity and drive to speak her mind which often got her into trouble in such a strict society. At the age of 14 her parents send her alone to Austria where she goes to school but doesn't fit in. She associates with punks and nihilists where she experiments with drugs and has her first relationship which sadly doesn't end well. After spending some time living on the streets and nearly dying she decides to return home, but starts to suffer from depression when she is back. In Iran she feels like a Westener and in the Western world she feels like an Iranian so struggles to find her place.
This was an excellent novel beautifully illustrated and told with warmth and humour despite the often tragic subjects. I am not really one for politics and don't know more than the basics, but this has given me a thorough grounding in Iranian culture and the wars going on in and near by Iran. The Western view of Iran is of oppression, particularly of woman, and it was lovely to see that behind closed doors there are parties, make-up, relationships (both straight and gay) and everything pretty much the same as over here. The only difference is if caught the penalty can range from interrogation to whipping to death.
If you don't read graphic novels, I urge you not to be put off reading this as you will miss a great story and a great piece work of politics too.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2012
Publisher: vintage books
This book is written as a storyboard and the style suits it perfectly. I have never read a book written using this method but I found it to be a very enjoyable experience. For this particular book it works extremely well as it carries the volume of dialogue, if this had been written in straight prose it would have resembled a play rather than a novel.
Marjanes general writing style is warm and inviting. As she narrates her story you can hear her voice and it brings the action to life. She captures the horrors of war and the difficulties of love in a style which makes all the subjects in this book seem very real to the reader. I have never been to Iran but I could connect with Satrapi and understood he point of view because it was explained so well and so easily.
This book gave me a totally new perspective of muslim women and what they may have been thinking while living under oppressive regimes. Young Iranian girls are not so different to European girls once stripped down to just their thoughts and emotions.
A very cleverly written book on a subject which I normally would not read, excellent.
Personal read 5/5
Group read 4/5 Plenty to discuss but not everybody's choice of subject.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2012
You may have heard of the film but this book is the story that inspired it.
Marjane Satrapi wrote this autobiographical account of her childhood in Iran during (and following) the Islamic Revolution. The child of wealthy Marxist parents and the great-granddaughter of Iran's last Emperor, Satrapi - by her own admission in the comic - was more privileged, and liberal, than many others in Iran.
`Persepolis' charts different anecdotes from Satrapi's childhood and adolescence - each like its own few-pages-long comic strip. The illustrations, all in black and white, are amazing. Her memories, told through the eyes of a child, are funny and startling in equal measure.
Charting the changes in Iran during the Revolution, Satrapi demonstrates how politics can impact on the personal. Many of the stories are about how Satrapi and/or her family tried to find ways of being true to themselves without being imprisoned by the radical religious police. As Iran, and its operations became increasingly strict, Marjan grew up and continued to be outspoken - sometimes with scary or amusing consequences. There are stories about things that we in the West take for granted: alcohol, make-up, running for the bus and rock music.
The second part of `Persepolis' charts Marjane's departure from Iran to Austria where she meets some very `interesting' characters as well as going through some really harrowing personal times. Satrapi had a knack for understanding what it is to be an outsider, even in your own home.
Marjane Satrapi is a true hero - she's an irrepressible spirit as well as being funny and entirely charming as a narrator. She never shies away from stories that will not necessarily paint her in a bad light but she is so honest that I couldn't help but admire her.
`Persepolis' is an example of the ridiculous (the regime) and the sublime (the brave narrator).
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2008
This is a fantastic comic that will appeal to both comic fans & non-comic fans alike.
Despite the Amazon title, this edition "Persepolis. The Story of a Childhood and The Story of a Return" actually contains the complete Persepolis series.
"The Story of a Childhood" was original published in France as Persepolis 1 & 2, "The Story of a Return" was original published in France as Persepolis 3 & 4
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
This is a graphic novel about Marjane's childhood and early adulthood in Iran. It combines the joy of reading a comic book with a real insight to life in Iran - through her eyes. It was no effort to read - in fact it was a absolute page turner but at the end of it I still felt I had a much better understanding of recent Iranian history and its impact on ordinary people than before. It is very funny, and winsome but she never loses sight of the pity of it all. Imagine, her liberal family with fine revolutionary credentials suddenly had to wear a veil/grow a beard and live in a religious state. How do they adapt? She describes her family and friends's reluctant conformity with great wit but in a manner that is sensitive to the background thunder of political executions, fear, torture and war. I cannot wait for the film.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"Persepolis" is a graphic novel, originally published in four parts in France. It formed the basis for an animated film that was first released in 2007. It won the Jury Prize at that year's Cannes Film Festival and was also nominated at the Oscars for Best Animated Feature. Rather unusually for a graphic novel, it tells the story of Satrapi's own life.
Marji was an ordinary 10-year old when the Revolution took place in 1979. She was very religious, and desperately wanted to be the last prophet...but she also idolized Bruce Lee and occasionally pretended to be Che Guevara. Naturally, she understood little of the "adult world" - Marji liked the Shah, and believed her teachers when they said he'd been appointed by God. Her parents, with good reason, detested the Shah and soon explained the truth to her. The current Shah inherited his position from his father - who, in turn, had been appointed by the British, rather than God. Furthermore, her Grandfather (a prince, no less) and her Uncle Anoosh had been imprisoned by one Shah or another and both had been devoted Communists - viewed by both Shahs as something evil. Both Marji's parents had been involved in protests against the Shah's regime, though they'd managed to stay out of prison.
With the fall of the Shah, life is - for a short spell - like a dream. Old family friends - like Moshen and Siamak, who had been routinely tortured - and Marji's Uncle Anoosh are released from prison. Like Marji's parents, both are hopeful of a better society. Marji had known nothing of her Uncle before his release from prison but, before long, the pair are devoted to each other. Unfortunately, their hopes prove unfounded. Islamic Fundamentalists win the following elections, and society becomes even more oppressive. Many of the Shah's former enemies - including Anoosh - are hunted down and returned to prison. Moshen, meanwhile, is found dead in his bath...though since only his head was underwater, it was obvious he was murdered. Although some (like Siamak) flee, Marji and her family stay put. War with Iraq sees the authorities calling for martyrs, with our young heroine becoming increasingly disillusioned. As time goes on, though, it becomes increasingly obvious that Marji won't be able to say nothing and keep her head down. As a result, her parents decide to send her to Austria to continue her education. While the move solves some problems, it opens the door to many more...and for many years, leaves Marji trapped between two worlds and unsure where she belongs.
Being a graphic novel, it's not your typical autobiography. There is a brief introduction - using standard prose rather than pictures - where Satrapi tries to explain her reasons for writing this book. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, she says, Iran "has been discussed mostly connection with fundamentalism, fanaticism and terrorism. As an Iranian who has lived more than half my life in Iran I know that this image is far from the truth." Marji proved to be a very likeable character, someone you wanted to see things go right for...though somehow you knew things wouldn't be easy. She and her family did have a tricky life in Iran. Her difficulties with social classes, religious regimes, wars and rivalries set her apart- and the suffering of her family, friends and neighbours under two repressive regimes shouldn't be glossed over. (These regimes weren't entirely "their" fault either - there was a certain amount of sneaky Western interference). Her life in Austria - a democratic, western country - wasn't pleasant either. There, she was always the outsider, someone set apart - with things sometimes descending to blatant racism. Nevertheless, it's a book that's definitely recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a strikingly memorable and effective depiction of the revolution in Iran and of its impact on one young girl. Satrapi captures the uncertainty - and misplaced hope - of the early days of the revolution before charting the bewildering and most unwelcome restrictions of the new regime, particularly on women. Marjane's encounters with the stern female `Guardians of the Revolution' and her little acts of rebellion recalled (rather chillingly) the experiences of Offred in Margaret Atwood's `The Handmaid's Tale'. But, incongruously, I also found myself reminded of Posy Simmonds' cosily comic cartoons - perhaps because Marjane's father looked a little bit like George Weber. The humour of Persepolis is enjoyable but, although in one sense it lightens a potentially bleak book, it also makes the horror and tragedy Marjane experiences still more shocking.
The heroine's disorientation as she moves from Iran to Europe and then back to Iran again was depicted very well. Although she feels like a rebel in theocratic Iran, Marjane seems prim and earnest to the bohemian young people she meets in Austria. I was expecting the reverse to happen once she moved back to Tehran. But her Iranian girlfriends, obsessed with the forbidden delights of lipstick and western pop, *also* think she is prim and earnest. There are many moments in the novel which stick in my mind. There is one rather charming episode when Marjane is interviewed before being admitted to university to check out her ideological purity. She answers with unwise candour, confessing that (although she certainly believes in God) her religious views and practices are unconventional. It seems certain that she'll be turned away but it is then revealed that the Imam (even though he is pretty orthodox himself) was impressed by her honesty.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the first graphic novel I've ever read and I'm glad I chose this one to begin with, because I loved it!
This edition of Persepolis is actually two books in one: The Story of a Childhood and The Story of a Return. They can be bought separately but you really need to read the first book before the second.
These two books are the memoirs of Marjane Satrapi. In The Story of a Childhood she tells us what it's like to be a child growing up in Iran during the 1970s and 80s. Due to the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War, Iran becomes an oppressive and often dangerous place to live, particularly as Marjane develops into a rebellious teenager. Her concerned parents eventually decide that the safest option is to send their daughter away to start a new life in Europe.
Before beginning this book, I didn't know very much at all about Iranian history and politics. I found that seeing things through a child's eyes was fascinating and informative. Marji is an intelligent, imaginative girl and like all children she's always curious and full of questions, so for someone who knows very little about Iran, this book offers an opportunity to learn along with Marji.
In the second volume, Marji is a teenager living in Austria, struggling to adapt to life in a country with an entirely different culture. This second book is more about the personal problems she faces with relationships, drugs and money and although I had a lot of sympathy for the situation she was in, I didn't enjoy reading this book as much as the first one.
Although this was definitely a new experience for me, I was quickly able to forget that I was reading a 'graphic novel' and become absorbed in Marjane Satrapi's story. The simple, stark black and white drawings were perfect and made it easy to understand what was happening. Rather than just illustrating the text, the pictures played an equally important part in telling the story. I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to. It was a powerful and moving story, with some moments of humour too. So, if you are also new to graphic novels and unsure where to start, I have no hesitation in recommending this one to you!