You may have heard of the film but this book is the story that inspired it.
Marjane Satrapi wrote this autobiographical account of her childhood in Iran during (and following) the Islamic Revolution. The child of wealthy Marxist parents and the great-granddaughter of Iran’s last Emperor, Satrapi – by her own admission in the comic – was more privileged, and liberal, than many others in Iran.
‘Persepolis’ charts different anecdotes from Satrapi’s childhood and adolescence – each like its own few-pages-long comic strip. The illustrations, all in black and white, are amazing. Her memories, told through the eyes of a child, are funny and startling in equal measure.
Charting the changes in Iran during the Revolution, Satrapi demonstrates how politics can impact on the personal. Many of the stories are about how Satrapi and/or her family tried to find ways of being true to themselves without being imprisoned by the radical religious police. As Iran, and its operations became increasingly strict, Marjan grew up and continued to be outspoken – sometimes with scary or amusing consequences. There are stories about things that we in the West take for granted: alcohol, make-up, running for the bus and rock music.
The second part of ‘Persepolis’ charts Marjane’s departure from Iran to Austria where she meets some very ‘interesting’ characters as well as going through some really harrowing personal times. Satrapi had a knack for understanding what it is to be an outsider, even in your own home.
Marjane Satrapi is a true hero – she’s an irrepressible spirit as well as being funny and entirely charming as a narrator. She never shies away from stories that will not necessarily paint her in a bad light but she is so honest that I couldn’t help but admire her.
‘Persepolis’ is an example of the ridiculous (the regime) and the sublime (the brave narrator).