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Ever since I started reading graphic novels that recommendations for this book started appearing everywhere, and so I was eager to read it.
Persepolis is a a compilation of the memoirs of a young iranian woman, presented in the form of a graphic novel with a very simple, yet really effective, visual style. Part of its strength certainly lies on this, since the high contrast and lack of excessive detail work really well with the story, with everything getting reduced to its essence in an extremely skillful way. Another plus is Marjane Satrapi's character herself. She's witty, smart and politically-oriented. But the best thing about this book was the fact that it explores a situation that doesn't get discussed nearly enough. Anyone who is interested in politics and world history knows something about Iran, but I, for one, knew little about the actual lives of iranians. The news that reach the rest of the world can never quite grasp what it's like to live in the middle of a conflict. Here we see the perceptions of people who try to get through their everyday lives, and we get to see what is common everywhere, and at the same time, those things that are unique to their situation. I admit that after I finished reading I started looking at Iran in a different way, (hopefully) understanding it a bit more.
This book is divided into two parts (previously published seperately): "The Story of a Childhood" and "The Story of a Return". As I was reading I was rather disappointed with the second one, but as I've had more time to think about it my opinion has changed. The first one is much more politicized, but it's also very one-sided - she is not yet old enough to really grasp everything that is going on around her, but nonetheless her views are shaped by what she sees happening to her family and their way of life. On the second part, she is growing up, and things reveal themselves to be much more complicated than they seemed. Her convictions get challenged, and we follow through the various conflicts in a much more personal, yet still very politicized way. Ultimately, it becomes more about her than about Iran, and we're reminded that this is only one personal story in a million possible ones.