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Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
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Persepolis (edition 2003)

by Marjane Satrapi

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6,039231690 (4.18)312
comfypants's review
Depressing and kind of terrifying, but very good. ( )
  comfypants | Apr 28, 2012 |
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I'm still not a fan of graphic novels, but this one was well done. I had heard great reviews and so decided to try it. The format helps to lighten the really tragic story. I'm not sure I could have stuck with this in a regular print book. The graphics were a break to the dark and heavy tale. I'm glad I read it. I learned something. ( )
  njcur | Sep 17, 2014 |
This review (with pictures!) and others posted over at my blog

Persepolis is a memoir turned graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi about her life growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and the war with Iraq. From the back of the book: “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.”

What I liked:
Generally I don’t read memoirs – probably I’ve never read one – but I am all about graphic novels and that’s the element that really drew me with this book, as well as the lovely cover design. I don’t often find myself reading anything politically charged either, and reading how Marjane grew up through the comic medium was a new experience. Marjane covers her life from years six to fourteen and I enjoyed her perspective and outlook. It was childish at times, yet still very intelligent. The artwork is simple and powerful and oftentimes Marjane’s day dreams or fantasies mix with her panels about real life, creating something really fantastic. I also appreciated the way Marjane handled the politics and religion in her life – it wasn’t overbearing on the reader and I didn’t feel like she was trying to force opinions on me. I also love the overall style of the illustrations.

What I didn’t like:
The ending! This book is only 150 pages and feels very much like one volume of a comic series, rather than a stand alone novel. I was disappointed with the cliffhanger ending – I wanted more! I know there’s a second book and I plan to get my hands on it, but I wish this book didn’t feel incomplete. When I purchased this book, I didn’t realize there was a sequel and had I known I would have waited and read them back to back.

~

This book was funny, poignant and intelligently written and I can’t wait to read Persepolis 2 as well as more of Satrapi’s work! ( )
  MillieHennessy | Aug 24, 2014 |
I first read this book/autobiography in high school my sophomore year, and even then I was really intrigued by the graphic novel/ comic book style of the book. The book takes place in 1980's Iran in the heat of religious turmoil in the country. The main character, Marji is growing up in all the turmoil and her passion for social activism leads her away from Iran only to eventually return. The book has a lot of first hand information about the religious uprising in Iran, and what life was like for those who were opposed to the religious regime. I really think this book has a lot to offer in terms of the study of social activism and the country of Iran. The black and white comic book pictures in the book really add an elements of drama of the story and make the book easier to read and follow. I really enjoyed reading this book, the autobiographical nature makes the character development extremely strong and overall I found it was a good read.
  qrennaker | Aug 15, 2014 |
Liked it, very informative.. But a bit dull ( )
  AmandaEmma | Mar 26, 2014 |
I loved the book. It told me a lot about a country that I discovered I knew next to nothing about. I love the simple, powerful drawings, too. This is a story that will remain with me for a while.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/6484805/ ( )
  Moem | Mar 11, 2014 |
I think this book is significant for what might be infinite reasons, but I will just name a few of my favorite. First and foremost, I love that it is a story of Marji's youth, it is really important, especially in non-fiction, to show our students characters that could be them. Second, I love that it is a memoir in the format of a graphic novel. You are really taken into the story, it is easy to read, but it is still a pivotal text. Lastly, the portrayal of a real world outside our own is an indispensable lesson.
  biarias | Mar 7, 2014 |
Review coming soon. ( )
  LibStre | Feb 6, 2014 |
Persepolis chronicles the author's childhood, growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and the war with Iraq. Her parents were Marxists, so Satrapi watched her parents go off to protest and wanted to become involved herself fairly young. She also learned, while she was young, some of the consequences of protesting and resisting (imprisonment, murder, execution).

This was my first graphic novel and I really liked it. I really liked the story and I surprised myself a bit by quite enjoying the graphic novel presentation of it. She moved quickly from event to the event, and part of that may be because it's a graphic novel...because the images are there, she doesn't need to write as much description. This made the story move along very quickly, so it kept my interest the entire time. I will definitely be reading Persepolis 2. ( )
  LibraryCin | Dec 31, 2013 |
There are many things that could be said about this book. I was having a hard time figuring out whether I was going to like it or not at first. But that was before I actually opened it up and began reading it. After I crossed the threshold and just delved right into the writing, it took two or three pages and I was fully immersed. This is a graphic novel that doesn't have much to say for itself in relation to the art-style, though I could endeavor to explain it, but its main character, who is writing Persepolis as an autobiography, is the driving force behind this entire story--her story.

It's her childhood, written about growing up in Iran, going through the revolutions and the wars that soon after the 1980s began to ravage the region, and what it did to its people there. This is a story that very often I wouldn't turn an inch for or spare a second glance to, and yet perhaps it's because it was in the form of a graphic novel that I was able to sit down and allow myself to entertain a subject so normally distant from my interests. Not that I'm not a follower of politics, but that for the most part, I enjoy taking breaks from reality with what I read. It's a preference I've mentioned a handful of times before in some of my reviews.

But Persepolis was different, in almost every aspect. Yes, it had the political and cultural aspects of Iran unfolded page by page for me to understand. But it was a tale of experiences gone through by a child as it grew up surrounded by things it understood, and how those natural and normal everyday privileges, occurrences, and freedoms were slowly infringed upon and taken away. It's intriguing and moving, it speaks to you like a book right out of the Dystopian genre, and yet it's shockingly, veritably real. And that's what brings its value and its momentous impacting force directly to its readers. Nothing about it sounds like anything I'd want to read about for fun or even for the experience. But that's the surprise--that's the clincher: it is an experience, and one that absolutely should be taken up by anybody. Though we don't understand everything perhaps, though we may have preconceptions about "the Middle East" or "Iran" and so forth, this is one of those masterful pieces of literature that gives us a deeply empathetic look into the reality of things and how they steadily unfolded into many of the events that are still driving us and affecting us today on an everyday basis, whether we realize it or not.

It's something of a wonder to me too, who was still young when we had 9/11 happen here in the U.S., to read about how even in the Middle East, in Iran as Marjane Satrapi unfolds for us, things are so far from what we knew.... Scariest part, is she had started writing this way before 9/11 happened. And it was published here in the U.S. just barely a year after the terrible day. I wish as a kid, and even more, as a teenager, and now--ten years later--that I had been given a chance to pick up a book like this. To be able to sit down and read something where I could understand and empathize with these peoples across the globe who were suddenly thrown into stark and stereotyped perspectives for me. I wish I had Persepolis to show me that these peoples were the victims of their own governments, and they suffered terribly too. Because even though I'm no fool and do not hate a people--or hate a country, or a culture, or a religion, or what have you--simply because of what a select group of people in a population carried out against the United States... it would still have been wonderful, and a relief to my soul, to know that propaganda did not have the greatest impact. That I could reach out onto my bookshelf and find a soul like my own, who had gone through things so, so, so much worse than I had, even though my life could have been completely desecrated by the events of 9/11....

*Pauses to hold back the tears as best as possible*

...9/11 was an immensely personal occurrence for me, and I will never forget that day as long as I live. For your benefit, my Readers, I was in that wider group of peoples that was near New York City the day it happened. And it will forever be a hugely personal part of my life.

...it brings me relief, and a type of closure that I found hard to find anywhere else, to read Satrapi's book, and to know that here, here I had someone who I could hold close to my heart, who I could empathize with, whose experiences I could share and relate to, and support. ...that was a tremendous gift. And even though this is a very, very new piece of literature, not having been out in the U.S. for even ten years now, it's a wonderful piece that should absolutely be given a chance. Whether or not we agree with everything, whether or not I approve of all the things mentioned, I was able to truly enjoy this reading, and, always most importantly for me: to understand it.

Marjane Satrapi did her people, her country, and us a great thing by giving us her experiences firsthand like this. Although there are three other volumes I believe written after this one, I treat this volume, at least, as a gift. I'm truly glad I invested in it, and I hope my feelings will be found to be echoed. Like I said, I don't agree with all the things written there. I'm a very politically minded person, but... I appreciate this work, and I think many others would really enjoy it as well if they gave it a shot. So Readers, give this one a chance! It's really worth the time, and I think you'll come out a little more enriched for the experience it gives you. ( )
  N.T.Embe | Dec 31, 2013 |
I'm not generally a fan of graphic novels, but as I was using the book in a display of Outstanding Books for the College Bound (ALA), I decided to read it. I have to say I found it moving, and the simple illustrations conveyed the child's perspective on some pretty horrific events. I think I'm going to read Part 2. ( )
  fromthecomfychair | Dec 8, 2013 |
I thought that these illustrations went perfectly with the book and can be used at the middle school level. ( )
  Kreho | Nov 22, 2013 |
The child view clearly highlights the tragedy of religion, and power. Yet gives hope in some life amongst the turmoil. ( )
  nyhoust | Nov 3, 2013 |
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
by Marjane Satrapi
Published on 2012 by Pantheon

Marjane Satrapi recounts her childhood in Iran during a fourteen year period that included the overthrow of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution (1979) and the war with Iraq (1980-88.) Politically savvy by virtue of being related to an imperial line and the daughter of Marxists, Marjane Satrapi tells her story through intense black-and-white panels with a highly stylized look nearly abstract in form. Readers unfamiliar with Middle Eastern history may need help to put things in context (google is your friend) but it’s worth the effort. The story is powerful both for it’s brutal telling and for it’s emotional punch. I cringed at her friends and families’ bewilderment at the Iraqis’ sudden upgrade in missile ordinance and was actually surprised that there were no recriminating fingers pointed at the U.S. for its military aid to the Iraqis at this time. Still, Persepolis is an amazing work of reportage, memoir and art. ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Sep 30, 2013 |
A dubious convert to graphic novels, I loved this amazing recollection of a childhood in Iran following the revolution. Not only did it convey the politics going on, but it illuminated the plight of so many Iranians, including the answer to my question: why did they stay? The illustrations are poignant and perfectly fitted to the story. I was so very impressed. 4.5 stars! If you've never picked up a graphic novel before, this is an excellent place to start. ( )
1 vote Readers_Respite | Sep 22, 2013 |
In graphic novel format, Marjane Satrapi writes of her experiences coming of age during the Iranian Revolution and war with Iraq, from approximately 1979 to 1983. We see her political views shaped by her reading, her parents, and her experiences; when the veil is required at school, she describes the ways in which girls would quietly (or not so quietly) protest. Throughout it all, she is a normal teenager too, pushing boundaries both parental and political. The illustrations are black and white, simple but all the more affecting for being so.

I read this book about six years ago when I first started reading graphic novels. At the time, I was not particularly impressed, given my original rating of 3 stars (I had not yet been reviewing books at the time). I probably would not have given it a reread, except that I had chosen it as a book discussion choice in the Muslim Journeys bookshelf grant that my library received. I found this a much more affecting read this time around. Perhaps this is because I'm more familiar with the historical and political events which affect Marji and her friends and family. Or perhaps it was the reading I did in preparation for the discussion that made me more aware of the thematic elements, such as Marji's teenage rebellion. In any case, I found myself thoroughly impressed by the author's ability to convey her unique experiences of the revolution and highly recommend it to anyone interested in Iran and the experiences of women. ( )
  bell7 | Sep 13, 2013 |
I do not normally read graphic novels, the words and text seem to not mesh well with the way I conceptualise things, and I sometimes find them hard work. But, Patrick Rothfuss' review of this book (and my husband's support) lured me into reading it and I am very glad I did. I loved, and not-quite-cried, but as close to crying as I get with literature. The lineart is simple and stylised, but effective and affective. The injection of dry humour amongst the darker times, and the streak of sarcasm all lured me in and kept me engrossed. It is a very bittersweet tale, that may-or-may-not have a happy ending. I shall have to read the next instalment to find out. It certainly opened my eyes to what life was like in Iran. I believe it should be required reading. ( )
  LemurKat | Sep 12, 2013 |
The stark images contrasted by what should be a little lively childhood demonstrate perfectly the ambiguous world in which Satrapi grew up: surrounded by the love of her parents and her privileged life style, she was not spared the pain and fear of war. Her courage and innocence are striking, which gives the book a true and authentic voice: the black and white representing the anger of injustice and simple pictures the view of a complex world through a child's eyes.
I found I was unable to read the book too fast, so rich it was in events and emotions. The ending is heart-wrenching. A haunting tale. ( )
  Cecilturtle | Sep 9, 2013 |
My third "I better read the damn book before the movie comes out" read in a row. I borrowed this one from the library; a good move, since I read it in one sitting and might have felt cheated had I paid money for it.

Which is not to say it's a bad book, not worth buying. Rather, it's better to read and share than to display on a shelf. The story is by turns tragic, infuriating, funny, bittersweet, hopeful and hopeless. A young girl who lives through the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war? Whose grandparents were princes and prime ministers? How could she -not- have a story to tell?

This is one of those "lest we forget" books that demands to be read by a wider audience. The art, in black and white but very expressive, is excellent and the writing is top-notch. Go read it now. ( )
  Kwarizmi | Aug 28, 2013 |
A graphic novel autobiography about the Iranian Revolution. The author grew up in a secular, modern family in Iran, but with the revolution, things in her world began changing. Now she has chosen to share her experience with the world, not just because the world needs a history lesson, but because she wants it to be known that not all Iranians are fundamentalists who want to live in an Islamic government and force everyone else to do the same. The work is witty and snarky, with the author poking fun at her 12-year-old self, and opening up private wounds to public viewing. Perhaps the graphic novel decision was wise, because the format and the humor help keep this from horrifying so much that you can't get through it, but at the same time, make it possible to go a bit further than you can go in a standard format. It's a very powerful work. ( )
1 vote quantum_flapdoodle | Aug 26, 2013 |
A memoir of the author’s childhood during the Islamic revolution, presented in a comic. This book caught my attention by two reasons:

1. My recent love for memoirs and historic stories.

2. The unique representation through a comic.

It’s a must read. :) ( )
  snapsandreads | Jul 28, 2013 |
I put off reading Persepolis for the longest time because I thought it’d be depressing and I’m a big emotional scaredy-cat. While Persepolis DOES have its darker moments, what I ended up reading wasn’t a story of unrelenting sadness. Instead, there’s humor, lots of love, and a big fat epiphany that I’m a dunderhead.

I’m stupid for being scared off a book, but I’m ALSO stupid because of this: intellectually, I know that not everyone in Iran is a religious fanatic out to destroy everything I love. Emotionally, as I said before, I’m a big scaredy-cat. Reading Persepolis helped me shift my emotional whatsits more towards my intellectual things. Yay for growing more empathetic and less stupid overall!

Read the rest of my review at Here There Be Books. ( )
  herebebooks | Jul 3, 2013 |
A compelling memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis is both a moving portrait of one young girl's life, and a keenly-observed record of the political and religious events unfolding in her country. The author chronicles her family's initial jubilation at the fall of the brutal and corrupt regime of the Shah, their dismay at the growing repressiveness of the new theocracy, and their suffering (along with their countrymen) during the Iran-Iraq War.

Usually indifferent to the charm of comics and graphic-novels, I was all-the-more impressed by Persepolis, which I found both intellectually and visually engaging. Satrapi's seemingly effortless marriage of image and word is a joy to experience, and her observations of the world around her sometimes struck a powerful chord in me.

Her belief, as a child, that she would grow up to be one of God's prophets, made me chuckle in self-recognition. Who has not felt the self-evident rightness of their own position, particularly before maturity teaches us that it is possible for more than one belief to be "right?" Her parents' observation at one point, that it was the religious authorities who were the true perverts, reminded me strongly of similar conversations about authority figures on the part of my own parents. It is a mark of her genius that Satrapi's narrative can be so utterly foreign and familiar at the same time. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Jun 18, 2013 |
5Q, 4P (My VOYA ratings)
When I’m doing reader’s advisory for parents struggling with reluctant readers, I often recommend that they start their children on graphic novels, so I did the same for myself, a “reluctant” nonfiction reader. Persepolis is definitely a book that I would recommend to reluctant nonfiction readers. The humor and suspense in the book will make it appeal to eager fiction readers who may be unsure if they can have the same experience with a nonfiction title.
Marjane’s character, and the changing ways that she expresses herself throughout the book are what makes it really stand out and why I rated this a 5Q instead of a 4Q on the VOYA scale (it had that little something extra to make it a stand-out title). While Persepolis deals with issues that may at first seem esoteric to Western teens (like social injustice and the ramifications of war in one’s own country), Satrapi’s depiction of herself as a child makes these issues not only approachable, but also relatable. Satrapi illustrates herself experiencing and thinking about difficult issues as, first and foremost, a child and teen. I found Satrapi’s “conversations” with God especially relatable because I remembered doing the same thing when I was young! I can certainly imagine teenagers reading Persepolis and having “me too” moments when Satrapi illustrates the sometimes strange and avant-garde ways that she thought when she was a child.
Even though Satrapi addresses some special interest issues like woman’s rights and the Iranian Revolution, I feel like most teens would enjoy this book because of Satrapi’s relatable writing style and perspective. And, in my experience, teens have been excited to read it—thus my rating of 4P. The only thing keeping it from a 5P is that it doesn’t fly off the shelves! ( )
  Sara_Killough | Jun 9, 2013 |
Persepolis is a powerful use of imagery and sharp writing, and outlines the true story and life of Marjane Satrapi, the daughter of socialist reformers in a war torn Iran. The material in Persepolis may be ideologically sensitive, but could be highly effective in a multi-cultural unit for possibly Freshman students. There is a second section of the story outlining Marjane's years as a college student in Vienna, and her eventual return to Iran. However due to being older in this installment I would likely not include the second installment and instead would allow students to seek it out if they personally wanted to.

Reading Level: 5.8 ( )
  Kaitlyn.Johnston | Apr 22, 2013 |
Characters: Marji, strong-willed 10 year-old Persian girl; Taji, Marji’s mother; Ebi, Marji’s father; Marji’s grandfather; Mehri, left her parents when she was eight, to live with and work for Marji’s family; Siamak Jari, a family friend who was held as a political prisoner; Mohsen Shakiba, a revolutionary held as a political prisoner; Uncle Anoosh, who told Marji about the torture he suffered in prison and escaped to Russia; Kaveh, Marji’s friend who emigrates to America.

Setting: Iran in the 1970s and 80s.

Theme: Freedom of speech, freedom of thought, expression, education are fundamental to living a happy, satisfying life.

Genre: graphic novel, YA memoir

Golden quote: “I couldn’t bear looking at them there behind the glass. Nothing’s worse than saying goodbye. It’s a little like dying.”

Audience: older teens interested in politics and the history of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Curriculum ties: Social Studies; Government—read the personal narrative about life in Iran during the Islamic Revolution to support the study of political events. Develop arguments about the purpose of the second amendment, and the separation of church and state.

Awards: 2003 Fernando Buesa Peace Prize; New York Times Notable Book; Time Magazine “Best Comix of the Year.”

Personal response: A conflicting complex of political and religious interests is revealed in this personal account, told in a comic arts format. Marji’s slowly developing understanding of the political events which so greatly affect the lives of herself and her family, make a powerful experience for readers. The specific effects of the evolving political climate, are captured in the emotions and reactions of the young girl. Understanding the motives and the sides in this ongoing tumult, finally seems less important than understanding the effects of war on people: children growing up in oppressive conditions, families torn apart, people spending decades in prison, loved ones telling stories of torture and brutal executions. The very personal way she tells the details of the story—her cries of unfairness regarding class distinctions (shown in the servitude of Mehri)—reveals her intelligence and her strong convictions. At the end, she loses her family when they send her to live in Europe. This is a powerful narrative that leaves the reader sharing the sense of loss felt by Marji as she walks away from her parents. ( )
  salps | Apr 19, 2013 |
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