Thursday, May 27, 2010
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Satrapi was raised in a modern family that valued education and modern life. Her parents were part of the revolution that forced the Shah from power. They were shocked, however, when the ultra-religous government that took over soon made the freedoms they were used to and expected illegal. No longer could women dress as they pleased; they were instead forced to wear the veil. No longer could the Iranian people travel freely; the borders were closed for over three years, and even when reopened, passports were almost impossible to obtain. No longer could one count on an education; the universities were closed for over two years.
Darker items were to follow. There were 3000 political prisoners under the Shah, but there were 300,000 political prisoners under the new regime. Satrapi's family had both relatives and friends that were imprisoned, tortured and some were even executed. Then the government got involved in a war with Iraqi. Bombings were common, and over a million people were killed.
Satrapi's use of the graphic format is a perfect match to the story of a young girl whose life changes so dramatically and who tries to make sense of the things happening around her with a child's understanding. Satrapi ended up being educated outside of Iran in her teen years and later, and chose a graphic artist's career. This book was a perfect match for her talent, and her memoir is chilling. To see freedoms taken away gradually is difficult, and when one looks up and sees where the normality markers have moved to, it is eye-opening. This book is recommended to all readers who care about world events, and those who enjoy memoirs.