by Marjane Satrapi
Pantheon Books, 2004
My Rating; B+
In the first Persepolis (I reviewed it last week) the author told us about her childhood in Iran during that country’s Islamic Revolution. Persepolis 2 is the continuation of her story. This second book covers a ten year period, from age 14 to 24.
When we left her in the first Persepolis she was leaving Iran for Austria. Her parents feared the Islamic government would hurt Marjane’s chances for a good education so they sent her to Austria to attend a private school.
During the next four years Marjane encountered many of the same problems most adolescents experience, no matter what their nationality. But Marjane had no support and found she could only make friends with fellow outsiders. There were incidents in which strangers yelled at her to go home to her own country. The four years were very difficult for this intelligent and sensitive young woman.
But once back home in Iran she had a hard time readjusting to the changes in the country, changes among her friends, as well as the changes within herself. It took her quite a long time before she could “take herself in hand” and make herself a “sophisticated woman.”
Marjane found life in Tehran both laughable and intolerable. The repressive regime had guards everywhere. A woman could be arrested for having wisps of hair showing out from under her veil or for wearing lipstick. If the guards saw a party going on through a window of a residence, the hosts and guests were arrested.
Ludicrous was an art class Marjane attended. This was a class to learn to draw the human body but the models were completely covered. Not even an arm was showing. The girls worked around the system and managed to draw each other at someone’s home.
Both of these novels helped me see a different picture of Iran. By looking at life for a girl/young woman in Iran, I became aware of a country filled with ordinary people, not terrorists. These are simple graphic novels with a powerful message.
I want you to see the simple black and white drawings that make up the books. The two novels have been turned into a animated film with the drawings of Marjane Satrapi. It’s a very short video trailer but you’ll get a good look at her graphic style.