September 19, 2008

Review: The Complete Persepolis

The Complete Persepolis
by Marjane Satrapi

After my lofty rave review of The Complete Maus I was immediately told to check out Persepolis being a similar graphic novel/memoir but this time of a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Actually I knew it was a memoir but nothing else. To be honest, if I'd known it was about Iran I might have avoided it for a while longer because I am already steeped in the war-time history of the middle east in My Father's Paradise, finding it hard to follow all the political maneuvering. Not being a history buff (I do find it fascinating but it's not my passion) I am doing well to keep a very basic understanding of one geographic historical period at a time. I fear it suffers in my estimation because of poor timing.

Persepolis has often been compared to Maus, a book still fresh in my mind. I would not consider Persepolis to have the same sympathetic appeal as Maus, nor the humility, but Satrapi brings the reader into her world and shows the similarities and differences to our own. She is open about her childish emotions, not softening them in retrospect to make herself look better; though you can almost see her shaking her head, laughing at her precocious self, her desire to be a prophetess, her games of torture with her schoolmates. She is then equally open about her immature and ill-thought out adolescent choices that cause her to run back home to a war destroyed Iran. With the eyes of an adult with a little more experience in the world she is able to judge her surroundings better; enough to determine that she no longer fits in her old world. She must find her own place.

In a way Satrapi's story reminds me of The Namesake. She is so isolated from her homeland but she doesn't fit anywhere else either. She is left to find her own place in a world that doesn't welcome her. But she is a strong individual who knows her own mind. She is courageous and honest. These are the traits that will pull her through.

I wouldn't call Persepolis a must read but it wasn't a waste of time. I got a glimpse of life from a different prospective and am more aware for it.

Buy this book from Amazon.


Trish said...

Sorry this one didn't quite do it for you. I didn't love the second half but the first half I did. I haven't read Maus but I've got it on my list. I'm reading My Father's Paradise right now as well--I was just telling my friend Laura how I feel so uneducated about the religious and political backgrounds of some of these countries (whose history is so much more extensive and deeper than ours). I thought Persepolis did a great job of helping clear some of the clouds away.

Carrie K said...

It does sound like it could be an interesting book although most protagonists in books are somehow in a world that doesn't welcome or understand them. It's a given in fiction.

Girl Detective said...

I think most people mention Maus and Persepolis in the same breath because they're both comic book memoirs, and Persepolis likely wouldn't exist if Maus hadn't paved the way. IMHO, Persepolis is good; Maus is great. I really liked the Persepolis books, but part of what drew me was that the author was the same age as me, and I remember the historical events from a US news perspective, and can contrast my girlhood and adolescence with hers.

For other comic book memoirs, I thought Alison Bechdel's Fun Home was really good, and liked Craig Thompson's Blankets. I did not like David B's Epileptic.

Petunia said...

Trish-the first one is more compelling because it deals with the war in Iran. The second part was more of a personal memoir that had little to do with Iran.

Carrie-it's a universal feeling, that's what makes the story such a good one.

Girl-I totally agree with you. Thanks for the suggestions.