The Complete Persepolis

Published By: Pantheon

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Comics & Graphic Novels

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Reviewed by Kathy Perschmann

The books Persepolis: Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: Story of a Return are combined here due to the release of the animated film. It is presented as a graphic novel with illustrations.

Satrapi was born in 1969 in Iran, the only child of educated and intelligent parents who raised her to think for herself. She was surrounded by political and philosophical discussions from an early age. During her childhood she saw the take over by Islamic fundamentalists, the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini, and the Iran-Iraq war. When she was 10 she had to wear the veil to school.

At age 14 her parents decided to send her to live in Austria, where they had friends who could care for her, and they enrolled her in a French school. Persepolis 2 is the story of her disconnected life in Austria. Angry at misconceptions about her country, worried about her parents, and longing to fit in, she struggles a great deal.

After a betrayal by a boyfriend and an accusation by her landlady, she lives on the streets until she wakes up in hospital. She returns home, and suffers from severe depression at all the changes. Eventually she is able to adapt, meets a young man, enrolls in art college, and marries. Her independent spirit, however, ensures she will be unhappy–and she leaves for college in France after a divorce.

These books are praised for their brilliant evocation of turbulent times in a very unusual culture. The art is simple and striking.

Armchair Interviews says: This story is riveting.

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