Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2007)

This time around the DAFFODILS (Devilishly Affable Friendly Friends Optional-Drinking Invitational Literary Society) decided to bust out into the wonderful world of graphic novels with The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2007).

Persepolis is a graphic memoir about Satrapi's girlhood in Tehran during the Iranian revolution and later the Iran/Iraq war. Her parents are liberal and secular, and big supporters of the revolution who find themselves and their friends increasingly persecuted by the fundamentalist leadership. Satrapi is young, but smart, and her parents treat her with respect, give her her freedom, and don't hide much of the stark and repressive world outside of their apartment doors.

As she gets older and more headstrong, and as the dangers of the war and the threats of the conservative government increase, her parents decide to send her to high school in Austria. In this second part of the memoir, Satrapi relishes the freedom and variety of the west, but feels increasingly isolated and cut off from her family and homeland. Her coming-of-age journey leads her to some dark places, an eventual return to Iran, and into her life as a young married woman.

I really enjoyed this book -- Satrapi's crisp black and white drawings complement the straightforward and unsentimental story of her life. Parts of the book are very dark, but they are tempered by the obvious love and humor of Satrapi's family and friends. I haven't seen the film version yet (which was co-directed by Satrapi), but it is on my list. And I can't wait to hear what the other DAFFODILS have to say about this book.


[And, to clarify the publication history (since I am a library nerd): Satrapi wrote four volumes of Persepolis in French between 2000 and 2003. They were translated into English and published in two volumes in 2004, and then made into a movie and collected into one English-language volume in 2007.]

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