I’ve read about this graphic novel around the blogosphere and wanted to read it after seeing a trailer for the screen adaptation. And I have to say I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure that I would (I’ve only read one other graphic novel) but Satrapi does a wonderful job telling the story of her life in words and pictures. There are funny moments and some that are heart-wrenching.
Persepolis is Satrapi’s account of her life growing up in a financially stable family in Iran in the 70s and 80s. The backdrop for her story is the Islamic Revolution and the war with Iraq. Although Satrapi is a young girl during this time she is obviously very bright and inquisitive, she also has no problems speaking her mind and getting answers to her questions. Her parents are fervent Marxists who attend demonstrations and talk with her about the revolution. She struggles with death and prisoners of war (some of whom she knows personally), with religious ideals, and social constructions. She was a little girl that I loved immediately. She has intense conversations with God and was convinced that she was to become a prophet. Her favorite comic book was ‘Dialectic Materialism’ starring Marx and Descartes.
My favorite part is when she realizes what the revolution is about. She tried to understand by reading books but it is the moment that she thinks about the professions of others in her life; porter, window washer, carpet weaver, and the maid that lives in her house that she begins to understand. Satrapi says that she never understood why she felt ashamed to ride in her father’s Cadillac or why Mehri, the maid could not marry who she loved. She realizes that the reasons for her shame and the war boil down to social classes.
“When I went back to her room she [the maid] was crying. We were not in the same social class but at least we were in the same bed.”
Satrapi gives us the history of her life and her country as she experienced it. Her adventures reveal a lot about the inconsistencies embedded in social structures. I enjoyed this one and was pleased to find out that she has other graphic novels. I will post my thoughts on these books later this week. And I’m going to watch the movie.