Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a poignant graphic novel detailing Satrapi’s own coming-of-age story amidst the political, social, and cultural turmoil of 1980s Iran.
The novel, drawn in starkly noir, heavy-handed images, reads like an autobiography- it tells of Satrapi’s childhood with her parents and family (well-known Iranian Communists), her teenage years spent in an Austrian boarding school, and her eventual return to her homeland, through the lens of her slow maturing.
I really enjoyed this novel! I read it for the first time when I was eleven or twelve (although I would not recommend it to anyone under thirteen). I don’t particularly enjoy reading in graphic novel formats, but I really felt that the imagery created by Satrapi only added to the depth of the story. The themes examined in the story also hit close to home for me- as someone from an Eastern country myself, Satrapi’s struggle with reconciling modernism with traditionalism was something I knew well. I also found it interesting to read about Satrapi’s struggle with depression abroad and at home- that was also something I related to.
Without a doubt, the best part of the novel was the art. Satrapi’s drawings are simple, but the small details in each panel manage to convey deep emotions and symbolism, without being overtly complex and distracting from the story itself. To the right is one of the most piquant panels from the story- a young Satrapi’s rendering of the 1978 Cinema Rex fire that killed more than four hundred.
I’d highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning a little bit more about the Middle Eastern conflicts in the 1980s, or anyone that enjoys autobiographical novels.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.