Book Review: Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis and Persepolis 2
by Marjane Satrapi
Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Percepolis
Release date: Published 2003

Finally, I have been meaning to read Persepolis for years.  It has been so long in fact that I can’t even remember how I first learned about them.  I read both of the books together one after another in one afternoon so I am going to review them as one. 


 I am not crazy into graphic novels.  I don’t hate them but they aren’t something that I naturally gravitate towards.  It has cropped up on so many lists and been recommended to me so many times but for one reason or another I just never got around to it.

First of all, now I want to learn more about the Iran-Iraq War.  I am too young to remember anything about it and because it had “nothing” to do with America I never studied it in school or university (EVEN THOUGH I HAVE A DEGREE I HISTORY! But hey, I know all the things about WWII and the French Revolution.)  The way that the war, the revolution, and the change in Marji’s family’s life were portrayed was incredibly effective.  She looks back on her life and her childhood with this incredible awareness and braveness and yet manages to not be cynical.  There is whimsy and humor to be found even when you or someone that you love is in danger. 

I suspect that one of Marjane Satrapi’s goal’s in writing Percepolis was to give Iran a face.  It is so eas to be afraid of people that you don’t know.  To put down people that you have never met.  When you think of a country and have a face and a person to put with it then in a way you become invested in that country.  I don’t think that I think about Iran in the same way that I did before I read this book.

Source: Also, this may be my favorite part

I loved how she addressed things as she saw the as a child.  There were things that were too big for her.  Things that she misunderstood until later in life.  For example at one point she is desperately disappointed that she was not able to brag that her father had been arrested and tortued.  She ended up lying about it all without really comprehending what that would really mean.  It is perfectly summed up in a thought bubble of her peers as she is bragging, “Too much.”  This is what it is like to grow up and that universal truth made the parts of her story that were specifically her own or specifically Iranian universal as well

I like that Marji never has an American perspective.  She is unapologetic about her opinions, her love for Iran, and her vision for the future.  She grew up in a very pro-communist household and I am not sure that this would have been as obviously or casually referenced if she had been living or had lived in the United States. 

The translation was flawless.  I mention this because awkward translations make me crazy and have caused me to DNF more books than I care to admit.  Her maturing voice was preserved and the humor and jokes are still funny in English.    

All in all, this is well worth your time to read. 

From Goodreads:
Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi's best-selling, internationally acclaimed memoir-in-comic-strips.

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.

From Goodreads: