Monday, November 29, 2010

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi- Review

The Hubby has been doing house reno's for one of our neighbors for close to a year now.  Him  and Mary-Louise have become good friends and through their chats about books got talking about comics.  Now I'm not sure if it was purely inspired by the hubby or if ML was thinking she needed to try them out, but one way or another she headed out and bought a variety of indie comics and while Ryan lent her his, she lent him hers.  Which is how I came to read Persepolis.

Now I haven't read many comics lately, the hubby has gone all download on me and I have to say it's the bane of my existence trying to read on the computer.  I really greatly prefer the comfort of the couch and the texture of the paper in my hands. 
You know, old school page turning. 
So I've missed out on Walking Dead and various other collections he's burned through free of charge online.  But he enjoyed Persepolis so much he insisted I pick it up before delving into the Strain's sequel, the Fall.  Which is how I found myself reading my first comic in months.

The very first thing that impressed me was how political it was.  I mean the hubby has no interest in politics, getting through the first few episodes of ROME was painful, he just kept tuning out and then crabbing that he didn't know what was going on.  So it was shocking to me something so political not only held his interest but totally engrossed him.  Then I read on and realized it had such a sweet and subtle humor, so totally dry, that no matter how political it was you had to love it.

Telling the story of her childhood in Tehran, Persepolis covers the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the success of the Islamic Revolution, and the horrors of war with Iraq (which I vividly remember from my own childhood perspective, watching it on TV 24 hrs a day in Canada).  Deep material to read as an adult, even deeper to have your childhood shaped by these events.  Marjane manages to make it both enlightening and even at times light, with unforgettable imagery, like her grandma getting undressed and having dead flowers falling out of her brazier, or all the little girls arguing and playing with the veil in the school yard right after the edict to wear it goes through.

Of course there is plenty of dark as well, and she doesn't shy away from graphically describing both torture and executions, not to mention the after math of bombings.  But one of the more interesting aspects of the story is Marjane's family's ties to the history- she's the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, a discovery she makes when she's still a young girl but which has been kept a secret from her for many years.  When she sits down with her grandmother to hear the story it feels remarkably like when I discovered my grandparents lived through German occupied Holland and sat down to hear the stories of when my Opa was put on a train bound for one of the prisoner work camps as a young boy or the night my Oma's family had a dud grenade hit the house.  So although I didn't live in a culture of strife and war she still manages to find common ground I could relate to.  I look forward to reading part two.

This was an amazing piece of work, and it's obvious why it received the accolades it did.  Although the information is probably a bit complex and violent for younger audiences this was a top of the line adult comic.  Diversify your reading and pick it up for yourself or the comic/ political guru of the family.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi
Published by Pantheon, June 2004

1 comment:

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