As part of a new trend in my reading habits, I've picked up an interest in graphic novels. I had heard buzz about Persepolis for some time, and our school library had it, so I brought it home to test it out. I wasn't disappointed at all. Since I have a real interest in history, this graphic novel helped me see inside Iran from the 1970s to present through the eyes of the main character Marjane.
In the first of the two, we get the life of young Marjane from the time of the shah, to the attack by Iraq. Marjane's family try to explain to this little girl about her family's royal history, her family friends' experiences in prison, and her new role as a young woman in an Islamic state. By the end of book one, Marjane is on her way to Austria, both to escape the conflict in Iran, and also to go to school.
In book two, Marjane grows from a young teen, into a near adult. She begins living in a convent, but is soon cast from home to home. From her life in Austria, she meets people who have different political views, who have different codes of morality, and who have had little experience with death and war as she has. Over time, Marjane becomes disillusioned with the person she has been turned into while living in Europe and returns to Iran, where she later marries and struggles against the strong Islamic rule being forced on its citizens.
The film basically takes the two books, and in French with subtitles, uses the same drawings used in the novels to portray the story. The movie is exactly like the books, but I will admit to enjoying the books much more than the film, which seemed to drag on with all the subtitles. Also, the film seemed darker than the books, in using the same graphics.
Altogether, I thought Marjane's coming of age during the conflict in Iran and through the new Islamic control of the region to be brilliantly and poignantly discussed in her two graphic novels. These two novels covered issues of history in the region, discussed moral laws imposed on the nation, discussed the view of the West as imposed on the East, and many other tough issues of nation and culture. Overall, I think these graphic novels are very well done, and give the reader a great view of Iran and its culture.
For more information, see: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return.
*Review based on library copies of each book and video.