Persepolis (Satrapi)

Book Reviews
Satrapi's drawing style is bold and vivid. She paints a thick inky black-on-white, in a faux-naif pastiche of East and West. Persepolis deploys all the paranoid Expressionism latent in the comic strip's juxtapositions of scale—the child dwarfed by looming parents, would-be rescuers dwarfed by giant policemen guarding the locked doors to a movie theater that's been set on fire—but when Satrapi depicts a schoolyard brawl, it's straight from Persian miniature. Persepolis was first published to enormous success in Satrapi's adopted France, where adult comic books are a long-favored form. The English edition comes with an introduction expressing the author's desire to show Americans that Iran is not only a country of fanatics and terrorists. The book could hardly have come at a better moment.
Fernanda Eberstadt - New York Times Book Review


The simple lines and shapes of Satrapi's drawings lend poignancy to the story. The fact that she is able to portray such a vast range of emotions with a few simple strokes of a pen is impressive. That she does this consistently for 153 pages is a mighty achievement.
Christopher Theokas - USA Today


Marjane Satrapi was nine years old when the Islamic Revolution reintroduced a religious state in Iran. Her life changed dramatically under the new regime. It became obligatory for her to wear the veil, her previously co-ed school was divided into separate schools for boys and girls, and fear began to rule her world whenever she was outside of her home. The only child of outspoken revolutionaries, Marjane found it nearly impossible to comply with the demands that were made by the new government. Her resultant disobedient and eventual violent behavior put her family in danger, and she was sent to live in Europe at the age of 14. Persepolis is an absolutely breathtaking memoir. The b/w illustrations are simple but they eloquently convey Marjane's perceptions and memories of her childhood in Iran. Satrapi's writing style is straightforward, and the story is told in a way that is easily accessible. Although terrorism and war form the basis of Marjane's childhood experience, we learn through her story that the actions of a few extremists do not reflect the attitude of an entire nation. This is presented in a nontraditional format (similar to Maus, by Art Spiegelman); however, its curricular advantages should not be overlooked. It gives the people of Iran a face and a voice through their spokeswoman, Marjane Satrapi, and the humanization of a people who often appear far away and different is a benefit not to be ignored. (An ALA Best Book for Young Adults.) Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults.
Heather Lisowski - KLIATT


Satrapi's cursive, geometrical drawing style, reminiscent of the great children's author-artist Wanda Gag's, eloquently conveys her ingenuousness and fervor as a child. —Ray Olson
Booklist   


Satrapi's autobiography is a timely and timeless story of a young girl's life under the Islamic Revolution. Descended from the last Emperor of Iran, Satrapi is nine when fundamentalist rebels overthrow the Shah. While Satrapi's radical parents and their community initially welcome the ouster, they soon learn a new brand of totalitarianism is taking over. Satrapi's art is minimal and stark yet often charming and humorous as it depicts the madness around her. She idolizes those who were imprisoned by the Shah, fascinated by their tales of torture, and bonds with her Uncle Anoosh, only to see the new regime imprison and eventually kill him. Thanks to the Iran-Iraq war, neighbors' homes are bombed, playmates are killed and parties are forbidden. Satrapi's parents, who once lived in luxury despite their politics, struggle to educate their daughter. Her father briefly considers fleeing to America, only to realize the price would be too great. "I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?" he asks his wife. Iron Maiden, Nikes and Michael Jackson become precious symbols of freedom, and eventually Satrapi's rebellious streak puts her in danger, as even educated women are threatened with beatings for improper attire. Despite the grimness, Satrapi never lapses into sensationalism or sentimentality. Skillfully presenting a child's view of war and her own shifting ideals, she also shows quotidian life in Tehran and her family's pride and love for their country despite the tumultuous times. Powerfully understated, this work joins other memoirs—Spiegelman's Maus and Sacco's Safe Area Goradze—that use comics to make the unthinkable familiar.
Publishers Weekly


Marji tells of her life in Iran from the age of 10, when the Islamic revolution of 1979 reintroduced a religious state, through the age of 14 when the Iran-Iraq war forced her parents to send her to Europe for safety. This story, told in graphic format with simple, but expressive, black-and-white illustrations, combines the normal rebelliousness of an intelligent adolescent with the horrors of war and totalitarianism. Marji's parents, especially her freethinking mother, modeled a strong belief in freedom and equality, while her French education gave her a strong faith in God. Her Marxist-inclined family initially favored the overthrow of the Shah, but soon realized that the new regime was more restrictive and unfair than the last. The girl's independence, which made her parents both proud and fearful, caused them to send her to Austria. With bold lines and deceptively uncomplicated scenes, Satrapi conveys her story. From it, teens will learn much of the history of this important area and will identify with young Marji and her friends. This is a graphic novel of immense power and importance for Westerners of all ages. It will speak to the same audience as Art Spiegelman's Maus (1993). —Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
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