Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Complete Persepolis

Wow. It's really original of Marjane Satrapi to choose to write her memoir as a graphic novel. It really worked. I'm glad I liked it so much, because it's my first 'real' graphic novel. I read the first Buffy Season 8 ones earlier this year, but that was an easy way to get started since I'm such a huge Buffy fan. I consider Persepolis the real deal.

So, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's memoir about growing up in revolutionary Iran - war, revolution, repression, persecution... what can these do to a willful teenager? I thought it was fascinating on so many levels. The coming-of-age storyline is one I usually like. I didn't know anything (and I mean anything) about Iran and learned so much. I want to read more about this interesting country.

I didn't know details of the fundamentalist repression either. I just can't imagine it, to be living like a 'normal' teenager and for everything to be taken away. All her dreams - of being free, of going to university, of going to the US - everything was taken away. I suppose that's when we find out what we're really made of but still.

It was strange to read about all the horrors in comic strip format. I somehow thought it would be lighter, even though that doesn't really make sense since I knew it would be about Iran. We're so used to graphic descriptions in books and we're so used to violent films and even cartoons, but we know that they're not real. It's strange when you look at the pictures, in the same format as Superman, and know that they are real. Does that make any sense? The simplicity reinforces the message, I know, but it was still weird to me.

I thought her story was beautiful and inspirational. To survive so much and to tell the world about it in such a meaningful way is amazing. I could empathise with her when she moved to Vienna - I know what it's like to be on your own when you're too young to be on your own, to be foreign, to miss that understanding from others of the same background.

And I loved the art. I loved that it wad black and white and simple. The emotions kind of jumped out at you. The hopeless romantic in me loved the page about how she and Reza are total opposites but they complete each other. Still makes me smile when I think about it.

This is certainly going to be on my list of favorites this year. If you haven't yet, you should definitely get this one.

Challenges: A-Z, 999, Countdown, Graphic Novels, In Their Shoes, Lost in Translation, My Year of Reading Dangerously, New Authors, Well-Seasoned Reader, World Citizen, Dewey Decimal


Ana S. said...

It makes sense considering you're more or less new to comics, yes. But a lot of them do deal with real, heavy, serious stuff. Now that you've read this...get ready for Maus :P It's possibly even more horrific. I don't mean this discouragingly, though! And I'm really, really happy you liked this so much.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed these graphic novels. I agree with Nymeth that you should now go for Maus. Enjoy getting to know this type of literature, I just got into it last years and haven't turned back!

joanna said...

Nymeth - Maus is one for this year, but I have a couple of other ones I already own to get through first... including the Angel season 6 one!

thatsthebook - I'm really liking this genre too!

Iliana said...

The Persepolis books were also my first intro to graphic novels! Which in one way you could say the set the standard very high but actually I think it just made me realize what a graphic novel is. Before I used to think it was just "comics" or who knows but this proves that good literature can come in many different ways. So glad you enjoyed this. I also recommend her other books.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

So glad you liked this one so much! It was one of my favorite reads of last year and also my first taste of graphic novels. I was so suprised at the depth and emotion that Satrapi was able to portray with these illustrations.

joanna said...

Iliana - yeah, I never took 'comics' seriously before this either :-)

Trish - I agree - and with such simple black and white illustrations!

valentina said...

I'm used to reading comics, but this too was for me my first "graphic novel" and I was amazed by how much I was enthralled by it especially because I don't read much non-fiction.

Apparently graphic novel memoirs have become very popular. I was reading "the rough guide to graphic novels" and it seemed like one out of two was a memoir!