Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

First line: This is me when I was ten years old.

From the inside cover: Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking 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: the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and the toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. 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 live.

My thoughts: My book club read this in conjunction with Reading Lolita in Tehran and I felt it was the perfect pairing of books. I do not usually read comic books or graphic novels, as they tend to be categorized now, but I really enjoyed this one. Persepolis is a revealing peek inside the daily life of a child in Iran. It is a very personal, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking snapshot of one girl's life. Through simple but quite powerful pictures and prose, Marjane Satrapi details what it was like for her to grow up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. As I mentioned in my review of Reading Lolita in Tehran, I really did now know a lot about Iran or the Islamic Religion, but after reading both these books, I feel I have a better understanding of the injustices that have occurred there. For anyone looking for a fresh perspective of what it was like to grow up during this time-frame, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)


  1. Check out the graphic movie as well, I watched it with my mom and we were cracking up all the way through.

  2. I've heard good things about the movie - am going to check it out. Thanks!

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed it, he movie is terrific as well. Persepolis is often referred to as an example of what the medium of graphic novels can aspire to be.

    I've read another graphic novel memoir which was fabulous The Impostor’s Daughter: A True Memoir by Laurie Sandell (

  4. I have yet to read a graphic novel but keep hearing such great things about this one that I am really tempted!


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