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The Complete Persepolis
By Marjane Satrapi
ISBN: 9780375714832
Publisher: Pantheon, a division of Random House
Date of Publication: 2003/2004 (Originally published in the United States in two volumes)
Reader’s Annotation:
Young Marjane Satrapi’s family adapts to the changing politics of Iran in the 1970s and the 1980s.

Plot Summary:
It is the early 1980s and Iran has entered the Cultural Revolution. Women are veiled or must wear a head covering in public. American Capitalism has been denounced and the nation turns its eyes onto Islamic Fundamentalism. Dissidents are arrested, inprisioned or executed.

In the midst of all this political and religious upheaval, a girl by the name of Marjane Satrapi is witness to the changes in her country, and then in her family. Marjane is an only child with an active imagination and a curious mind. Her family’s history is tied to the country’s history and these changes are felt intimately. As the years go by, young Marjane must reconcile her choice of freedom and her love of her country and family. Spanning decades and two continents, Persepolis is the story of how a young girl becomes a young women and how a country struggles to find it’s voice in change and conflict.

Critical Evaluation:
Drawing on her personal history, Marjane Satrapi weaves an artistic masterpiece. The art is bright and illuminating, even in black and white shadowing. In the parts describing the history of Iran, there is a magical, mythical quality, despite the horrific nature of the country’s history. Beyond Satrapi’s art, the story that Marjane presents feels honest and true. Satrapi’s family is a supportive bunch of individuals who want nothing but the best for young Marjane. Their conversations on politics and religion are meant to educate Marjane, though it leads to dire consequences later in her life. The path of change is not easy and Satrapi is honest in her assessment of her history and the power of Iranian politics.

Many memoirs expected some form of sympathy from their readers, grasping for pity as a means to feel supported. Satrapi expects her readers to be open-minded to her history and her country’s history. She doesn’t expect pity for her tale but convey what it meant to live in Iran and how the changes of the Cultural Revolution changed her family’s life. An example of this could be found in Satrapi’s conversations with God. When God does not answer, Satrapi begins to realize that the price of her decisions is her own and no one else’s. This concept is highlighted later when Satrapi is sent abroad to study. Satrapi’s tale could be a parallel history of the new Iran. As Satrapi begins to find her voice, so to does Iran in regards to its policies and actions. Mistakes are made but how we handle the mistakes define who we are as a person or as a nation.

The Complete Persepolis is both a beautiful art piece and a moving story. It is a great example of how art can influence a story and vice versa.

punk is not ded

 

Information about the Author:
Marjane Satrapi was born in Iran and was raised in Tehran. Satrapi studied Decorative Arts in Austria and eventually moved to Paris where she lives today. Satrapi has become an internationally recognized artist in part due to her work in comics but in the film adaptation of Persepolis. Satrapi has adapted her book Chicken with Plums to film and is working on third film that will be released in the Winter of next year. Her art work has appeared in various print media across the globe. (Barclay Agency)

Genre:
Memoir, Non-Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Iran History, Modern Islamic History, Art, Personal Stories

Booktalking Ideas:
What is the role of religion in politics?
What would it be like to leave your family to live in a different country?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Persepolis is a crossover title. This title would be perfect for ages 15 and up.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book in America. The book has been banned and challenged in Satrapi’s home country of Iran and the neighboring country of Lebanon on the basis of religious reasons. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would be religion, violence, language, and sexual situations.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
As a fan of Satrapi’s art, I can’t help but be excited to talk about her books and films to anyone willing to try something new. Satrapi’s memoir focuses primarily on her youth and what it means to find an identity in a climate of political and religious change. Young readers who feel alienated from their peers and their family will find a kinship to Satrapi’s tale.

Reference:
Adnkronos International. (2008). Iran: Oscar-nominated film branded ‘anti-revolutionary’ by authorities. Adnkronos International. Retrieved from http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/CultureAndMedia/?id=1.0.1914777928

Barclay Agency. (n.d.). Marjane Satrapi. Retrieved from http://barclayagency.com/satrapi.html

France 24. (2008). Lebanon lifts Persepolis ban. Retrieved from http://www.france24.com/en/20080328-lebanon-lifts-persepolis-ban-film-lebanon

Bonus Features!

Mini Film Review:

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