The Complete Persepolis

Written & Illustrated by Marjane Satrapi

Peel: This is an autobiographical graphic novel based on a girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution, and later going to high school in Vienna.

The first half of the book was much stronger than the second. The first half is examining the revolution through a child’s eyes, and the second is centered on her. The childlike drawings I found compelling in the first half, especially given the heavy subject matter. My expectations were rather high for this book because of all the hype, and I’m rather surprised now that it’s mentioned with Maus.

I expected to hear a little more about Tehran and less about her, especially as she aged, but the opposite occurred. The first half was a child trying to understand her country and contradictions, whereas the second half was her trying to find her identity. I found a brief wikipedia scan on Iran during the 70s to 90s helpful for context. It was interesting to think about how being related to the former rulers of Iran and being in a child in an upper-class liberal family may have shaped her reaction to the Islamic Revolution.

I had mixed feelings about the protagonist. In the beginning of the book, while she’s a child, she’s rather likable, intelligent, and outspoken. As she aged though I couldn’t help but wish she stood up for herself in a less disrespectful manner, but on the other hand the blatant honesty without giving a rosy hue to her past was very powerful. She does a rather awful self-absorbed thing towards the end of the book, and only seems to feel bad as her grandmother was disappointed in her. As much as I loved Satrapi’s honesty, it was rather hard for me to empathize with her after that.

Nibble: “At the age of six I was already sure I was the last prophet.”

I would highly recommend the first half of this as an interesting view of culture, violence, and revolution through a child’s eyes.

My Rating: 6 out of 10 black and white apples

Get the first half on Amazon ~ Get the full novel on Amazon



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