Post #23: Persepolis

Persepolis
Persepolis: The Story of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Post number twenty-three is for Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis: The Story of A Childhood, which was another required graphic novel for this week's YA Lit course. I have been looking at this title for a while, and just never picked it up and purchased/checked it out. I'm glad I got to read it; it was defintely eye-opening.

Spoilers follow.

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This graphic novel is basically a biography of Marjane (called Marji) Satrapi's childhood growing up in Iran in the late 1970s, early 1980s, prior to the Islamic Revolution. This is probably proof of how the US has used propaganda to change your viewpoint of the country, but aside from their ancient roots when they were Babylon, Persia, etc., I had no idea that Iran – prior to the Islamic Revolution (and I didn't know anything about that, either) – was very free-thinking and progressive. It's interesting to be shown proof that your education – which you'd put a lot of stock in, and thought was excellent – really left out some huge chunks of information. It's hard to think about the millions (!!!) of Iranians who were killed in their war with Iraq. It's interesting to think that the English Prime Minister had a role in the oil industry, and really bent the ear of the Shah and got him to do pretty much what he wanted. And it's strange to think that Marjane and her family – who shunned the veil and only wore a simple kerchief when they went outside, in order to protest – really went through it all; family members jailed, released, and then re-jailed and killed as political prisoners; sending their only child to Vienna so she could escape the oppressive regime and the threat of war; wanting their child to have a bilingual education (Marji studied French, and attended a French school prior to the Islamic Revolution), which the conservatives didn't like (they even shut down bilingual schools for a while, right at the same time that they made the girls start wearing the full veil at school and separated them from their male classmates, making the schools single sex). It's just interesting to realize how much we really don't know about Iran and the people who live there.

I think everyone should have to read this book. It just goes to show that, even when I considered myself open-minded and accepting, that I was sort of still showing some prejudices and painting an entire country with one brush. I'll definitely try not to do that in the future.

There's a second volume of Persepolis that she's also written (or you can read The Complete Persepolis), and I definitely want to check that out when I get some free time. Two more weeks of live sessions to get through first, as well as a paper for my Admin/Management class, and then I can do some reading for pleasure, at least until my summer class starts!

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