Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis
is an exemplary autobiographical graphic novel, in the tradition of Art Spiegelman's classic Maus
. Set in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, young Satrapi is the six-year-old daughter of two committed and well-to-do Marxists. As she grows up, she witness first-hand the effects that the revolution and the war with Iraq have on her home, family and school.
Like Maus, the main strength of Persepolis is its ability to make the political personal.
Told through the eyes of a child (as reflected in Satrapi's simplistic yet expressive black-and-white artwork), young Marjane learns about her family history and how it is entwined with the history of Iran, and watches her liberal parents cope with a fundamentalist regime that gets increasingly rigid as it gains more power. Outspoken and intelligent, Marjane chafes at Iran's increasingly conservative interpretation of Islamic law, especially as she grows into a bright and independent teenager. Throughout, Marjane remains a hugely likeable young woman
Persepolis gives the reader a snapshot of daily life in a country struggling with an internal cultural revolution and a bloody war, but within an intensely personal context. It's a very human history, beautifully and sympathetically told. --Robert Burrow
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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.
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