Oneshots: Persepolis


Persepolis, an original graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, is the story of a young girl growing up in Tehran, Iran. This autobiography captures Marjane’s life from ages six to 14 as seen through her eyes during strange and unsettled times for her country. The writing style is engrossing and the stark, simple black and white art adds to the sophisticated nature of the narrative.

She begins her story just as the Shah is removed from power in 1980 and the new fundamentalist Islamic government begins placing restrictions on the people of Tehran, especially the women, that the previously somewhat Westernized populace are unfamiliar with. Marjane is surprisingly adaptive to the new rules, making funny hats and things out of her burka. Despite these rules she is still a kid who gossips with her cousins, falls in love with her political activist uncle, and loves western music. scan.jpg But Marjane is not without a dark side. She is oddly curious about the numerous deaths that begin to occur in her family and in the families of friends and neighbors. She holds these deaths as a strange badge of honor – the more she has in her family, the more important she thinks she is.

Marjane could be any American girl of former hippie parents. She has that same sensibility. She is allowed and encouraged to be outspoken and to stand up for what she believes in. She is slightly eccentric.

For a non-Muslim, Persepolis gives the reader new insights into what it means to be a religious zealot, how their beliefs effect and dominate their lives in a way that no Christian or Jew has experienced, at least not in this Western culture and in this time. To be able to die, in this day and age of reason, for a religious belief that may not even be your own is an extremely powerful thing. To be able to live a somewhat normal life and still retain your sense of humor in a place where the deadly combination of religion, fear and repression exists is even more impressive.

I am not a 14 year old girl, but I was one and I have one. I recommended this book to her and I recommend it you.

– Laurie Kilpatrick