Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

I have reached one conclusion, I need to learn how to take better photos of my books! Or get some editing software. This cover actually tells a million stories of the story we are about to discuss, and I have done it no justice. I picked up Persepolis a few months ago, at the suggestion of a friend of mine when I told her I really wanted to read my first graphic novel but did not know where to start. She grabbed it from a shelf in Waterstones, as we wandered around aimlessly like we do every week, and told me “this one!”, like it was the only possible starting point. She was right.

So my first graphic novel was Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi.

Prepare for spoilers.

“Once again, I arrived at my usual conclusion: one must educate oneself.”
― Marjane SatrapiPersepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Satrapi stars in her novel, as she retells her own story and her true perspective on growing up in Iran in the middle of the Islamic revolution and the turns her life took. Satrapi curbs our own Westernised view on the situation by being direct, humorous and at often times, very black and white about the circumstances she grew up in. Torn between being a Middle Eastern woman in Europe and too European and modern for her own country, Satrapi was often at odds with her own identity.

The format itself is a curious one for the telling of this story, lead through speech bubbles, I feel that the graphic novel/comic format was ideally chosen as a light-hearted method to tackle a complex and incredibly politicised topic. In some weird way, this makes the novel seem more factual, though it is ripe with thoughts of her own, her parents and family, however as opinionated as it may be, the lack of fluffy, overly descriptive text makes it so matter of fact. It is in this way that Marjane sees her life, so simple, it is exactly as it happened, no ifs or buts, just a life and its story.

We watch Satrapi grow over the novel, be sent away from her family to live in Austria, tackle racism and puberty on her own whilst abroad, and choose to return to a home she no longer recognises. We see the effects of time on both her family and their resistance to the regime, or compliance, as well as her own development into an individual that is split between two worlds. Persepolis, which translates to city of the Persians, is Satrapi’s method of reclaiming her own country back from the war that ripped it apart. A true life voyage through the world and various cultures, this is absolutely a must read novel.

Persepolis is available for purchase on Amazon, Foyles and Waterstones – at least as I have seen! – Grab this fantastic, eye opening graphic novel and don’t question the format, it honestly really works. Broaden your understanding of one of the major conflicts in the world in the last 50 years and open yourself up to a whole new culture that was originally not that distant from our own.

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