Persepolis (by Marjane Satrapi)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Mon May 12 03:24:55 MDT 2003

Excerpts from _Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood_ by Marjane
Satrapi (Pantheon Books, June 2003):

*****   Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France,
where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's _Maus_,
_Persepolis_ is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking
memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In
powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story
of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the
overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic
Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The
intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the
great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears
witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her

_Persepolis_ paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran:
of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life
and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual
spirit. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors,
state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to
learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her
own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political,
and wholly original, _Persepolis_ is at once a story of growing up
and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political
repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in
the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an
irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

<>   *****

By Marjane Satrapi, as told to Pantheon staff

Chances are that if you are an American you know very little about
the 1979 Iranian Revolution. "This revolution was normal, and it had
to happen," says Marjane Satrapi, author of _Persepolis_, a totally
unique memoir about growing up in Iran after the Shah left power.
"Unfortunately, it happened in a country where people were very
traditional, and other countries only saw the religious fanatics who
made their response public." In her graphic novel, Satrapi, shows
readers that these images do not make up the whole story about Iran.
Here, she talks freely about what it was like to tell this story with
both words and pictures, and why she is so proud of the result.

Why I Wrote Persepolis

 From the time I came to France in 1994, I was always telling stories
about life in Iran to my friends. We'd see pieces about Iran on
television, but they didn't represent my experience at all. I had to
keep saying, "No, it's not like that there." I've been justifying why
it isn't negative to be Iranian for almost twenty years. How strange
when it isn't something I did or chose to be? . . .

[The full text is available at

Fernanda Eberstadt, "'Persepolis': A Graphic Novel Recalls the
Iranian Revolution," _New York Times_ 11 May 2003:

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