Persepolis: The Story Of A Childhood

Paperback | June 1, 2004

byMarjane Satrapi

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A New York Times Notable Book
A Time Magazine “Best Comix of the Year”
A San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times Best-seller

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

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This book is unbelievable – call it the "thinking person's comic book." I have read many coming-of-age stories but never one set against the historic backdrop of a society undergoing a shift from liberal democracy to extreme fundamentalism. This is moving, eye-opening, and powerful reading.

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From the Publisher

A New York Times Notable BookA Time Magazine “Best Comix of the Year”A San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times Best-sellerWise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life i...

From the Jacket

A "New York Times Notable BookA "Time Magazine "Best Comix of the Year"A "San Francisco Chronicle and "Los Angeles Times Best-seller Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, "Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her ...

Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969 in Rasht, Iran. She grew up in Tehran, where she studied at the Lycée Français before leaving for Vienna and then going to Strasbourg to study illustration. She has written several children’s books, and her illustrations appear in newspapers and magazines throughout the world, including The New Yorker a...

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The Complete Persepolis: Now a Major Motion Picture
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Persepolis 01
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Format:PaperbackDimensions:160 pages, 8.8 × 6.1 × 0.5 inPublished:June 1, 2004Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:037571457X

ISBN - 13:9780375714573

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Very entertaining and powerful story. Related to her character a bit
Date published: 2016-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good A comic book childhood memoir of life during the Iran Revolution. It could be a little hard to understand if you don't know much about the revolution, but still interesting and poignant. Even though I enjoy reading big novels with big words, I really liked this one too, and intend to get the second one. I had to read this for class, but ended up enjoying it more than I've enjoyed many school novels.
Date published: 2010-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Brilliant Story A Brilliant Novel ***** Out of five stars Persepolis is a brilliantly written and stunningly drawn graphic novel/biography by Marjane Starapi. Appropriately referred to as “the story of a childhood” by its author, Persepolis is about growing up during the Iran-Iraq war. In the novel, Starapi tells the story of her childhood, starting from age nine. A particularly strong part of the novel involves Starapi recounting when she was forced to wear a veil in school. She talks about how she wasn’t sure what to think of it and about what symbolism it has to her religion. Another particularly interesting part is during Section Two where Starapi and her friends are discussing revolutions. One compares them to a bicycle, if they're not in motion, they will stop working. Another very good part of this book is not in its text, but its artwork. Starapi tells her tale through a beautiful black and white comic that will keep readers interested and amazed by her skills. In conclusion, Persepolis tells a truly unique and wonderful tale about a amazing woman’s childhood and how she became who she is today.
Date published: 2010-03-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really enjoyed my first graphic novel Persepolis chronicles the author's childhood, growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and the war with Iraq. Her parents were Marxists, so Satrapi watched her parents go off to protest and wanted to become involved herself fairly young. She also learned, while she was young, some of the consequences of protesting and resisting (imprisonment, murder, execution). This was my first graphic novel and I really liked it. I really liked the story and I surprised myself a bit by quite enjoying the graphic novel presentation of it. She moved quickly from event to the event, and part of that may be because it's a graphic novel...because the images are there, she doesn't need to write as much description. This made the story move along very quickly, so it kept my interest the entire time. I will definitely be reading Persepolis 2.
Date published: 2009-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A charming and moving story The moving story told through the eyes of a young girl growing up in Iran and experiencing first-hand the horrors of the islamic revolution. Well written with charming illustrations, this a book that will be remembered for years to come.
Date published: 2008-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Catches you off guard... The format of this book catches you off guard at first, but as soon as you start reading, you realize how the illustrations narrate the story. Its format lends understanding to the historical and political events of the time. I marvel at how the author seems to place her emotions aside and finds humour through such adversity. I highly recommend this one and can`t wait to read the next!!!
Date published: 2008-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An illustrated biography. I can't begin to describe my enchantment with this book. The images are so beautifully drawn that the story draws you in. My empathy towards Marjane and her family was immediate. I don't want to give the impression that this is a happy childhood story, it is not - it is however incredibly inspiring.
Date published: 2007-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Thinking Person's Comic Book This book is unbelievable – call it the "thinking person's comic book." I have read many coming-of-age stories but never one set against the historic backdrop of a society undergoing a shift from liberal democracy to extreme fundamentalism. This is moving, eye-opening, and powerful reading.
Date published: 2007-09-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A nice surprise! I picked this book not knowing what to expect, and was pleasently surprised by the author's ability in giving an accurate and brief overview of what the "revolution" genration of Iranians experienced in the past 25 years.
Date published: 2006-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Persepolis It's the first graphic novel I've read, and I'm now hooked. A friend lent it to me, I read it in one sitting. I passed the book onto my mom who cried at the end. Captivating and very educational. Marjane's accounts of her experience during the revolution are very objective and real. Reccomended to absolutely everyone. I can't wait to read the sequel.
Date published: 2005-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You can't miss this book! I couldn't stop reading Persepolis after I found it on the display table in Chapters. It is a book illustrates many snapshots of Iranians' life during their ups and downs in 70's - 80's. Althought I 've never been to or grown up in a IsIamic country, I came to Canada because of the political changes in Hong Kong during 1997. Some of the stories reminded me the worries and fears of Hong Kong people experienced around 1997, but there was nothing come close to the fears and heart broken that the Iranian's facing during their revolution in 70's -80's. I learn and understand more about Iranian culture and Islamic world. I highly recomand this book to my friends.
Date published: 2004-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extraordinary - This Book Spoke My Story I cannot give Peresepolis enough praise. Having been a child of the revolution like Satrapi, I could relate to all of our heroine's thoughts and emotions. I was even younger than Marjan at the time of the revolution but the fear, anger, confusion, mistrust and disbelief that she displays at the various stages in her memoir were all shared by me as a child. I felt as if she wrote about the world that I saw and felt around me. I highly recommend this book to all - step away from, as one reviewer noted, the cliches of CNN and enter a new world of understanding of a people savagely crippled under the dictatorship of the muslim clergy.
Date published: 2003-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Story of my generation Marjan is one year older than me. Her story is the story of my generation. This book is the best book to teach my children on Iran's history and to show to the world what being an Iranian means.
Date published: 2003-09-30

Extra Content

Bookclub Guide

US1. The New York Times hails Persepolis as “the latest and one of the most delectable examples of a booming postmodern genre: autobiography by comic book.” Why do you think this genre is so popular? Why did Satrapi chose this format in which to tell her story? What does the visual aspect add that a conventional memoir lacks? Have you read other graphic memoirs, such as Maus by Art Spiegelman or Joe Sacco’s Palestine? How is Persepolis different and/or similar to those? How does Persepolis compare to other comic books? Would you call this a comic book, or does it transcend this and other categories? Where would you place this book in a bookstore? With memoirs, comic books, current events?2. Written as a memoir, is Persepolis more powerful than if Satrapi had fictionalized the story? Why or why not? Compare this book to other memoirs you have read. What are the benefits and drawbacks of memoirs?3. In an Associated Press interview, Satrapi said, “The only thing I hope is that people will read my book and see that this abstract thing, this Axis of Evil, is made up of individuals with lives and hopes.” And in her introduction to Persepolis, she explains that she wrote this book to show that Iran is not only a country of “fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism.” How does Satrapi go about challenging this myth? How does Persepolis dispel or confirm your views on Iran? In what ways does reading this book deepen your understanding and knowledge of Iran, and the current situation in Iraq?4. How is Persepolis organized and structured? What has Satrapi chosen to emphasize in her childhood? How is the passage of time presented? Describe Satrapi’s drawings. How do the drawings add to the narrative of the story?5. Describe the writer’s voice. Is it appealing? Which aspects of Marji’s character do you identify with or like the most, the least? Did your reaction to the little girl affect your reading experience?6. How did the revolution exert power and influence over so many people, including many educated and middle class people like Satrapi’s parents? Why did so many people leave after the revolution? Why do you think Marji’s parents send her off to Austria while they stay in Tehran? Why don’t they leave/escape as well?7. “Every situation has an opportunity for laughs.” (p. 97) Give some examples of how the ordinary citizens of Iran enjoyed life despite the oppressive regime. What made you laugh? How does Satrapi add comic relief? How are these scenes relevant to the story as a whole?8. What kinds of captivity and freedom does the author explore in Persepolis? What stifles or prevents people from being completely free? How do they circumvent and defy the rules imposed on them and attempt to live ordinary lives despite revolution and war? Give some examples of their small acts of rebellion.9. “In spite of everything, kids were trying to look hip, even under risk of arrest.” (p. 112) How did they do this? What do you think you would have done had you been a child in this environment? What acts of rebellion did you do as a teen? In way ways is Satrapi just a normal kid?10. What does Satrapi say regarding disparity between the classes before and after the Iranian Revolution? Discuss some examples that Marji witnesses and contemplates.11. At the core of the book is Marji’s family. What is this family like? What is important to Marji’s parents? What environment do they create for their daughter despite living under an oppressive regime and through a brutal, prolonged war? From where do they get their strength?12. What is the role of women in the story? Compare and contrast the various women: Marji, her mother, her grandmother, her school teachers, the maid, the neighbors, the guardians of the revolution.13. Discuss the role and importance of religion in Persepolis. How does religion define certain characters in the book, and affect the way they interact with each other? Is the author making a social commentary on religion, and in particular on fundamentalism? What do you think Satrapi is saying about religion’s effect on the individual and society?14. In what ways is Persepolis both telling a story and commenting on the importance of stories in our lives? What does the book suggest about how stories shape and give meaning to our experience? Discuss some of the stories in Persepolis—Uncle Anoosh’s story, her grandfather’s story, Niloufar’s story.15. What is Satrapi suggesting about the relationship between past and present, and between national and personal history? What role does her family history, and the stories of her relatives, play in shaping Marji?

Editorial Reviews

“Delectable. . . Dances with drama and insouciant wit.” –The New York Times Book Review“A dazzlingly singular achievement. . . . Striking a perfect balance between the fantasies and neighborhood conspiracies of childhood and the mounting lunacy of Khomeini's reign, she's like the Persian love child of Spiegelman and Lynda Barry.” –Salon“A brilliant and unusual graphic memoir. . . . [Told] in a guileless voice . . . accompanied by a series of black-and-white drawings that dramatically illustrate how a repressive regime deforms ordinary lives.”–Vogue"Odds are, you’ll be too busy being entertained to realize how much you’ve learned until you turn the last page.”–Elle.com“[A] self-portrait of the artist as a young girl, rendered in graceful black-and-white comics that apply a childlike sensibility to the bleak lowlights of recent Iranian history. . . . [Her] style is powerful; it persuasively communicates confusion and horror through the eyes of a precocious preteen.” –Village Voice" This is an excellent comic book, that deserves a place with Joe Sacco and even Art Spiegelman. In her bold black and white panels, Satrapi eloquently reasserts the moral bankruptcy of all political dogma and religious conformity; how it bullies, how it murders, and how it may always be ridiculed by individual rebellions of the spirit and the intellect." --Zadie Smith, author of The Autograph Man and White Teeth "You've never seen anything like Persepolis—the intimacy of a memoir, the irresistability of a comic book, and the political depth of a the conflict between fundamentalism and democracy. Marjane Satrapi may have given us a new genre."--Gloria SteinemI grew up reading the Mexican comics of Gabriel Vargas, graduated to the political teachings of Rius, fell under the spell of Linda Barry, Art Spiegelman, and now I am a fan of Marjane Satrapi. Her stories thrummed in my heart for days. Persepolis is part history book, part Scheherazade, astonishing as only true stories can be. I learned much about the history of Iran, but more importantly, it gave me hope for humanity in these unkind times.—Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street and CarameloI thought [Persepolis] was a superb piece of work, not only for the child's eye view—the developing child's eye view—of a society unknown to many of us in the west, and feared and suspected in proportion to being unknown.... Satrap has found a way of depicting human beings that is both simple and immediately comprehensible, AND is almost infinitely flexible. Anyone who's tried to draw a simplified version of a human face knows how immensely difficult it is not only to give the faces a range of expression, but also to maintain identities from one frame to the next. It's an enormous technical accomplishment."--Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass."I cannot praise enough Marjane Satrapi's moving account of growing up as a spirited young girl in revolutionary and war-time Iran. Persepolis is disarming and often humorous but ultimately it is shattering."-- Joe Sacco, author of Palestine and Safe Area GorazdeThis witty, moving and illuminating book demonstrates graphically why the future of Iran lies with neither the clerics nor the American Empire. --Tariq Ali Author of The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity"I found the work immensely moving with depths of nuance and wisdom that one might never expect to find in a comic book. It’s a powerful, mysterious, enchanting story that manages to reflect a great swath of Iranian contemporary history within the sensitive, intimate tale of a young girl’s coming-of-age. I didn’t want it to end!"—Diana Abu-Jaber, Author of Crescent and Arabian Jazz"A rare and chilling memoir that offers every reader a personal, honest portrait of Iran's recent political and cultural history. Ms. Satrapi's provocative, graphic narrative of life in Iran before and after the Islamic revolution is an extraordinary testament to the level of human suffering experienced by Iranians tossed from one political hypocrisy to another. Aside from the humanistic dimension, the beautifully minimalist Persepolis gives further evidence of Marjane Satrapi's sensitivity and superb skill as an artist."--Shirin Neshat, visual artist/filmmaker"Readers who have always wanted to look beyond political headlines and CNN's cliches should plunge into this unique illustrated story. Let Marji be your trusted companion, follow her into the warmth of a Persian home and out along Tehran's turbulent streets during those heady days of revolution. Persepolis opens a rare door to understanding of events that still haunt America, while shining a bright light on the personal humanity and humor so much alive in Iranian families today."-- Terence Ward, author of Searching for HassanBlending the historical with the personal is not an easy task, to blend the individual with the universal is even more challenging. But Marjane Satrapi has succeeded brilliantly. This graphic novel is a reminder of the human spirit that fights oppression and death, it is a witness to something true and lasting which is more affective than hundreds of news broadcasts.--Hanan al-Shaykh, author of Women of Sand and MyrhhFrom the Hardcover edition.