Sartrapi, M. (2004). Persepolis. NY: Pantheon
The story begins with a young Marjane (or Marji), who doesn’t understand what’s going on around her. When the Shah is overthrown, and a new Islamic regime takes control. All the schools are single-gender, she is forced to wear a veil, and the picture of the Shah is torn out of her textbook. Her parents’ friends, Siamak and Mohsen, are released from prison. She meets Anoush, her uncle whom she immediately loves. He tells her stories about being in prison and Russia, and gifts her with a bread swan. Slowly, though, Marji and her parents realize that the regime isn’t that much better than the monarchy that preceded it. Everyone who supported the revolution is now a sworn enemy of the government. Iron Maiden, Nikes, and Michael Jackson become precious symbols of freedom, and eventually Satrapi’s rebellious streak puts her in danger, as even educated women are threatened with beatings for improper attire. Despite the grimness, Satrapi never lapses into sensationalism or sentimentality.
Commentary and Text Connections:
Satrapi’s autobiography is a timely and timeless story of a young girl’s life under the Islamic Revolution. One of my favorite parts about this book was the format of graphic panels. Satrapi drew very simple images, which somehow conveyed a great depth of emotion and graphic weight. There was also a great deal of symbolism in the panels, which you will definitely see as you read the graphic novel. Skillfully presenting a child’s view of war and her own shifting ideals, Satrapi also shows daily life in Tehran and her family’s pride and love for their country despite the tumultuous times.