Published by Vintage in 2008
Challenges - Graphic Novel Book Challenge and Library Challenge.
I am so thankful to everyone who recommend this book to me, as I thought it was absolutely wonderful.
I was lucky enough to pick up a copy which had both Persepolis 1 and Persepolis 2 in it. Both are graphical memoirs of the author's life at different periods of time.
Persepolis 1 looks at Marjane's childhood in Iran during very turbulent times. Marjane grew up during the Islamic Revolution and the book covers her life from the age of six through to fourteen, where her parents decided to send her to school in Austria. Marjane's parents were very Westernised and were very outspoken about the changes enforced upon the country and its people. This put Marjane in a dangerous position as she had become just as outspoken as her parents and very rebellious. She left the country, never knowing whethere she would see her parents again.
Persepolis 2 follows Marjane's life from her teens through to adult hood. You get the feeling, that she feels like an outcast in Austria and also an outcast when she returns to Iran after becoming more Westernised.
Both books are broken up into mini episodes dealing with different events and aspects of her life.
I found both of these books really interesting to read. The story was heart wrenching, whilst simultaneously being humorous. I wonder if I would have read them if they had not been in graphic form and I think that I probably wouldn't. The joy of reading them in graphic form, allowed me to understand the difficulties and problems that arose during the revolution. I felt I came away wiser and more knowledgeable about the history of Iran. Marjane's fight to become just like one of us, was very compelling. She refused to become the woman her country expected her to be. From a young age, she witnessed horrific events, including the death and execution of people close to her.
Over the years, I have seen many Iranian women wearing the veil and I always presumed they were happy to wear them for religious purposes. Not once had it ever occurred to me that they hated wearing them and how uncomfortable they must have been. It was expected of them to wear the veil in order to shield them from sexual advances from men unable to resist their flowing hair and facial features.
I felt that this story has given me a good opening point in order to read more about the Islamic Revolution and the people who lived through it.
In parts of the story, I actually found myself laughing as Marjane made fun of the constant changes within her country's culture and beliefs. Marjane made a long history of war and revolt into a page turning event full of humour and sadness. I get the impression that Marjane is capable of seeing the funny side of life, even when she is feeling troubled.
I don't feel my review is doing this book justice and I have to admit to finding it a little difficult to review a graphic novel, which is a genre that I have only just started to read. I definitely recommend reading this book, especially if like me, you have no prior knowledge of the history of Iran; it is definitely a good starting point.