Summer Reads: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

I was recently asked by Rover Arts to write about a classic summer read. The one that immediately came to mind was Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, a graphic novel, my first. After years of disdain for a genre I deemed little more than kid stuff, I relented and quickly discovered how wrong I was...

If you love adventure and have a feisty left-leaning inner core you will love Persepolis.

Here's what I wrote for Rover:

The Complete Persepolis
Marjane Satrapi

Forget all your preconceived notions of Iran, and dive into Persepolis, a gripping graphic memoir of the author’s childhood and adolescence growing up in a middle class family during the Islamic Revolution. The feisty young Marjane not only believes that one day she will become a prophet, but also pretends that she is Che Guevara marching around with her friends. While her left-wing intellectual parents are in the streets of Tehran protesting the Shah, Marjane demands that her father get rid of his Cadillac and that the maid be allowed to eat at the family dinner table.

The Islamic Revolution, however, takes its toll on the Satrapis. Imprisoned family members return to tell tales of torture and murder, while Marjane is forced to attend an Islamic school and don the chador, something that she and her mother protest vehemently until they are attacked in the streets by fundamentalists. The parents fear for their daughter’s safety because of her increasingly vocal opposition to authority, and at 14, Marjane is sent away to school in Austria where she languishes.

Persepolis is my all-time favourite graphic novel, and the one I most often recommend. Not only does it give the reader a detailed portrait of a country sadly known more for its religious fanatics and autocrats than its rich history, but it also lets us see the everyday life of an average person, a girl no less, during the tumultuous times of the Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War. Persepolis piqued my curiosity about Iran and led me to Christiane Bird’s Iranian travelogue Neither East Nor West and Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, two other books I recommend about a country I dream one day of visiting.

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