An important work I would encourage everyone to read. 4/5 stars.
What it’s about: Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.
Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom—Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.
Persepolis is an important work. I say “work” rather than book, because this is both a piece of art and an incredible story. Satrapi’s monochrome images are wonderful. There is something about the stark black and white which suit her story perfectly: its frankness, horror and humour.
I admit to knowing very little about the history or politics of Iran or the wider Middle East. And, knowing as little as I do, I wasn’t surprised by how many times Satrapi found Westerners incredulous when she told them about her childhood in Iran, particularly her experience of revolution and war. The more terrible aspects seem so awful as to be unreal and yet, at the same time, sadly all too believable.
Amid all this are remarkable moments of defiance and humour, affection and bravery, all the brighter for being surrounded by so much darkness.
I couldn’t give Persepolis 5 stars simply because something about it failed to draw me in completely. I think maybe it is because it is constructed in short episodes, resulting in a slightly disjointed narrative.
That said, I would encourage everyone to pick it up. This is a unique insider’s view of events, a culture and way of life most of us know too little about.