Sunday 24 August 2008

The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

I've been trying to catch up with my reviews and with the blogging activities in general but since I've come back from holidays I've been so busy, and tired, and then busy again that I still haven't found time to even develop my holiday pics, let alone write proper reviews of the books I've been reading. Even now I have so many things I should do...I'm so stressed!!! anyway, this is supposed to be a review, so here it goes.

I had heard about Persepolis before its film came out. It was mentioned now and again by those graphic novels connoisseurs as a must read, a pillar of the genre, a masterpiece. But it never occurred to me to go and look for it, till the movie was made.

Now that I've read it all I can say is "Wow, what a page-turner!" I know, it's very generic, and it doesn't say much about the book, but that's the first thing that came to my mind after finishing it. Anytime I was reading it on the bus I was at risk of missing my stop, because I was so deeply immersed in it. I never imagined a biography to be so captivating.
The edition I have includes both part I and part II, so it was an uninterrupted journey into Satrapi's life.
In my total ignorance about Iran's history, I didn't know anything of the Islamic revolution and its consequences. About the repression, the tortures, the fear that was part of people's everyday life. One thing is reading history books (which I don't do anyway) and another is reading a memoir of someone who experienced those years personally. I have a tendency of identifying with the stories and the characters I read about. I did the same with this book, and it was extremely emotional.
But don't make mistakes, this is far from being a heavy read. It was tough, it made me shiver and it made me angry, but it made me laugh out loud too. A lot. The shocking and the funny was perfectly balanced and that, I think, is what makes Persepolis unique.
It helped that Marjane was raised by a very liberal family, with a socialist background and an independent way of thinking. It showed the stark contrast between what was going on outside, where you could have been arrested for wearing make up, and inside, where people were risking their lives to throw parties or listening to rock music.

Unfortunately I've left it too late to write a review that would actually make justice to this wonderful book. All I know is that it was one of my favourite reads of this year, and that I couldn't recommend it more. Even if you think you wouldn't be interested, try and read the first few pages. I bet you'll be hooked before you know it.

Other blog reviews:
Thoughts of Joy (part I)
B&B Ex libris
The Book Nest (Part I)
An adventure in reading
Things mean a lot
The Hidden side of a leaf
Rhinoa's ramblings
Katrina's reads
It's all about me


Ana S. said...

I agree that the balance between tragedy and light and humorous moments was absolutely perfect. It's a serious book, but it also shows that no matter how bad things get, people will try and find ways to continue to live their lives.

Sorry to hear you have been stressed...I hope things get better soon.

Jill said...

I know what you mean about being behind - I feel the same way! I read Persepolis a few years ago and have been meaning to read the sequel. I love the way graphic novels can give a unique perspective into all kinds of situations. What a great book!

mariel said...

i found the graphic novel format a wonderful way of telling a story that could be quite difficult in such an engaging way. glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

I just nominated you ... :)

Carl V. Anderson said...

I really want to see this film and read the graphic novel. I've heard and read so many great things.