Persepolis brings color to a black and white world

"The Complete Persepolis," by Marjane Satrapi, is a graphic novel depicting the author’s life while growing up in revolutionary Iran. What’s so intriguing about the book is that instead of the story being dull and lifeless, it’s fast-paced and educational. Many of the events she witnessed, and took part in, are aspects of the Islamic Revolution. For example, her parents were radicals and marched in many of the demonstrations against the government. Marjane’s mother was even photographed at one of the protests and the picture was published in many European magazines. Slightly more historically astounding is that Marjane’s grandfather was the son of the Emperor who was overthrown by the Shah and regime, making her participation against the government later on in the story less shocking.

For a girl so young it’s nice to see how politically aware she is. Many children are so pop culture oriented that current events go unnoticed. She doesn’t start off that way, though. Like many Iranian kids, she was very religious and believed the Shah was God’s gift. Marjane also had "conversations" each night with God and wanted to be a prophet when she grew up. Eventually her father explained to her the political and social aspects of the country, which then gave her that awareness of current events.

Being a graphic novel, the storyline is based not just on words but on pictures as well. They aren’t very artistic nor are they hard to figure out –they are just nice little addendum to the storyline. Perhaps it’s best to say that the things that happened to Marjane growing up were more vivid than can be conveyed by just using descriptive words. It is sometimes easier to imagine the hardships in someone’s life when you have a visual aid.

Perhaps the most important facet of the story is the counter culture that was raging during the revolution –people refused to be oppressed. The Black Market thrived and people would find ways to enjoy life without getting caught. Of course it would be devastatingly dangerous to one’s livelihood to be caught, but otherwise they found ways to be fulfilled. Secret parties, hidden alcohol, private bashing of the government: all of these things helped keep Iran sane. Such a story may seem hard to relate to because many people have not had to deal with any kind of dismal government ruling. What Marjane’s tale does do is put into perspective just how lucky a person could be to live in a place where it is relatively safe to be who you are. "The Complete Persepolis" is definitely a book to check out.

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