Title: The Complete Persepolis
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Publication Year: 2007
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Graphic Novel
Source: Bought, probably from Chapters (re-read)
I read Persepolis for the first time a couple years ago, a few months after seeing the movie on a date with Zaid. I really loved it at the time, wishing that there was more to the story. A few weeks ago, we decided to read it for our next book club, so I got to embark on a purposeful re-read!
The Complete Persepolis is a one-volume version of Satrapi’s graphic memoirs Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return. In the “complete” version, there is no demarcation between the two “parts” of the story, so I’m going to deal with them as one work.
Satrapi’s memoir starts with events from her childhood growing up during the Islamic Revolution, and includes little chunks of historical context as and when needed explaining the fall of the Shah and other Persian/Iranian tidbits. Persepolis continues to follow Marjane as she grows up in Iran, moves to Austria alone for a few years for school, and ultimately returns to Iran and to her family. It’s obviously a lot more complicated than that, but I don’t want to give too much away.
I adore this book. The way that Satrapi has chosen to tell her story is such that you actually feel, in the beginning, as though you are witnessing the life of a child, even though she is recounting it in retrospect years later. The graphics, also by Satrapi herself, are generally very clear and uncluttered, with strong lines and a very stark contrast between the black ink and the white page. It makes for a very simple reading experience. What really stands out, though, are the occasional panels that really haunt you; one such image depicts the souls of people who died in a fire in a movie theatre while they were locked in.
Something that I especially loved about Satrapi’s personality and editorial choices, was that you get to see the private lives and beliefs of the Iranian people. Persepolis doesn’t perpetuate stereotypes, instead choosing to convey experiences and beliefs that Satrapi was exposed to during her life. I’m going to leave you with a panel depicting one of these experiences, which makes me laugh every time I read it. Enjoy!