Book Review: The Complete Persepolis

March 11, 2010

Since then, this old and great civilization has been discussed mostly in connection with fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism.  As an Iranian who has lived more than half of my life in Iran, I know that this image is far from the truth.  This is why writing Persepolis was so important to me.  I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists.  I also don’t want those Iranians who lost their lives in prisons defending freedom, who died in the war against Iraq, who suffered under various repressive regimes, or who were forced to leave their families and flee their homeland to be forgotten.

persepolis1That’s from the introduction of The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, a graphic novel that chronicles her coming of age as a young woman in Iran, Europe, and Iran again.

– I have to say, the graphic novel format really suits this work.  It’s in black and white, and the graphics are relatively simple (or maybe deceptively simple), which makes the people and their attitudes the real stars of the story.

– I love, love adolescent Marji.  She’s just such a kid, trying to understand the world the best way she knows how.  She wants to be a prophet, she plays martyr and torture, and she isn’t afraid to stand up for herself.  She is just adorable.

– I also love young adult Marji, but in a different way.  She, too, is trying to find her place in the world, but that story is more heartbreaking because she has to leave home to be safe and then she’s a stranger in a strange land once she gets to Austria, and then she’s a stranger in her homeland when she goes back to Iran after being in Austria.

– I also love her parents and her grandma (love her grandma!) and just…all of the characters/people are very fully drawn, and their motivations are clear.  It’s just wonderful characterization all around.

I just really enjoys books like this and Anne Frank because, honestly, it just shows how similar all of our experiences are, even when they’re vastly different.  War torn countries aside, both stories are about girls becoming young women and so much of that experience is universal.

Sometimes it is hard to really like a book because there is nothing to say except “I like it!  It’s awesome!  Read it!”  But, you know, I like it.  It’s awesome.  Read it!

Women Unbound:  4/8; POC Challenge 3/15

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  1. Emily

    I loved her grandmother so much, too!

    I felt like the graphic novel format helped me connect and empathize with Satrapi’s characters so much more than I would have without the illustrations (although I know it’s comparing apples to oranges). Something about the way the people are drawn just invites so much emotional connection.
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..The Confidence Man =-.

    • Akilah

      You’re right. It’s like I felt connected to everyone whereas with a prose novel, I might have just loved her grandmother because she was so awesome fantastic. Also, I think it speaks to the strength of her artwork that the characters are so vivid.



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