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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood [Paperback]

Marjane Satrapi
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 2004 Persepolis
A New York Times Notable Book
A Time Magazine “Best Comix of the Year”
A San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times Best-seller

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

Frequently Bought Together

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood + Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return + Maus I & II Paperback Boxed Set
Price For All Three: CDN$ 46.99

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From Amazon

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly the best book of the year July 19 2004
"Persepolis" marks the third book in the almighty triumvirate of great autobiographical graphic novels that examine injustice. Joining the ranks of "Maus" by Art Spiegelman and "Palestine" by Joe Sacco, "Persepolis" has garnered a remarkable amount of attention. Positive attention, that is. Suddenly it's getting high marks in everything from "Entertainment Weekly" to "VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates". I wonder to myself whether or not author/artist Marjane Satrapi has been surprised by the mounds of attention. I also wonder how it is that she was able to take her own life story and weave it seamlessly with the history of her own country, Iran. This book is like an illustrated version of "Midnight's Children", but far darker and far more real.

The first image in "Persepolis" is the same image you see on its cover. Marjane sits wearing a veil in 1980 for the first time. As the story continues, Marjane explains her own beginnings as well as the beginning of the "Cultural Revolution". In her own life, Marjane was an only child of middle class intellectual parents. She experienced the usual childhood ups and downs. Sometimes she believed she was God's next chosen prophet. Other times she wanted to demonstrate with her parents in the street against the Shah. Over the course of her childhood Marjane learns more about the limits of class in Iran as well as the secrets behind her family history. She finds that her grandfather was a prince, her uncle a political prisoner for years, and her parents far braver than she ever expected. Marjane deals with the danger of challenging authority under the rule of religious extremists while growing up as a normal girl.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Possibility for Cultural Criticism June 21 2004
Cultural relativists as far back as Sextus Empiricus or Michel Montaigne, or as recent as William Graham Sumner or Gilbert Harman, often make compelling arguments that there are no objective standards for judging other societies/beliefs. Yet Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis achieves in 153 pages what cultural relativists deny as possible and what most political pundits can never fully articulate: an informed and justifiable criticism of an existing cultural paradigm. Satrapi's method is deceptively simple: by using her own life stories as the premise, Satrapi builds an argument for criticizing culture.
Satrapi's autobiographicalized[1] self and society act both with wisdom and foolishness both before and after the revolution. The Iranian revolution meant to replace an unpopular government with one more responsive to the people's will. Until reading this book, I was unaware of any particular details of Iran during their revolution - mostly because I am a Westerner and generally not privy to accounts of day-to-day life in the Mid-East. On that basis, the cultural relativists may be right that I have no foundation on which to critically analyze the current state of Iran. Thankfully, however, Satrapi can criticize - using both an insider's and outsider's perspective. Satrapi undermines the denial of standards posited by cultural relativists by showing the reader that standards of comparison do indeed exist: standards related to varying degrees of freedom of expression, of decision, and from coercion. Satrapi's criticism is much more subtle than "old way good, new way bad." Instead, she draws for the reader situation after situation where real people are swept along with the flash flood of a revolution.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Autobiography Nov. 4 2004
By A Customer
The Autobiographies/Memoirs have it this year, i haven't read one i didn't like. "Persepolis" is at the top of the list of spell binding, well written gut wrenching truth and honesty.
Other books to read are: Nightmares Echo, Dry,Reading Lolita,Running With Scissors
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate and honest July 25 2007
This is one of the very few historicallt accurate books written about Iran by authors living outside of Iran. As an Iranian, I think it's a necessary read for all non-Iranians who want to learn the truth about Shah's regime, the Iranian Revolution, and the Iran-Iraq war. It would also be a good read to all Iranians who never had a chance to learn the truth about the history of their country because of the false propaganda of the Islamic Republic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book. April 23 2004
Definitely one of the most unique and interesting books i've ever read. There are a lot of ways to tell a story, and this was actually one of the most touching perspectives on the iranian revolution I've ever read.
As an iranian american, I always hear stories from my parents/relatives/acquaintances on what happened - events leading up to the revolution - and life in iran afterwards - but how often do you hear the story from that 12 yr old's voice? There were a lot of funny episodes that made me laugh out loud...and a lot of parts where you feel genuine empathy for her. There were some very sweet moments with marjane's uncle or grandmother where you actually feel that connection and can relate it to yourself.
Marjane shows the effects of the revolution on her family and day to day life...seeing friends drafted or imprisoned - and witnessing many fleeing to America. It's a story that we've all seen and heard (and is not unique to Iranians) yet it's refreshing and bittersweet at the same time. She keeps the story alive and light with her mishaps at school, with friends, and with her childhood adventures.
I loved this book. It's a quick read, but that comic-book format of it will actually make the story and images really stay in your mind.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 22 days ago by Noémi Viens-Poirier
5.0 out of 5 stars A great coming of age story and more
Satrapi's graphic novel chronicling her childhood is an excellent read both if you're interested in the history of this area of the world and if you're interested in reading a good... Read more
Published 1 month ago by AliKira
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
A real page turner. Made me want to learn more about this period of history. Very engrossing and told from a unique perspective.
Published 4 months ago by chughes
5.0 out of 5 stars words cannot describe my love for this book!
I was hesiatant to read persepolis, thinking, that despite it being a graphic novel, it would be dry. and even boring at times. but i was very wrong. Read more
Published on June 9 2009 by Laura Tobin
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating!
Persepolis is the first and only graphic novel I have read but I found it to be really enjoyable! A great read which uses humour and sarcasm to construct Sartrapi's... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2009 by J. Pollock
5.0 out of 5 stars For a school book it was pritty good.
I read it al in two days. it was good. I enjoyed it. Probably the first school book I liked.
Published on July 29 2005 by Alex
5.0 out of 5 stars deep, and honest
As an iranian who has lived in similar years as Marjane is talking about, I could totally relate to what she says... Read more
Published on July 17 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best
I have grown up in the same neighborhood and experienced the very same stories that Marjane has shared with us. Read more
Published on June 29 2004 by Popak
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh Style that won't let Go
It amazed me when I started reading this book. I just couldn't put it down. Thank you Marjane. Beautiful work. Keep it up.
Published on June 16 2004 by Amir A. Forati
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