JONAS SCHALLENBERG Reviews
PERSEPOLIS: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
(Pantheon, New York, 2004)
Death and torture in a children comic
Thousands of people died, hundreds of activists were tortured and thousands of families were destroyed. It was the time of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Right in the middle of this chaos, the little Marjane Satrapi grew up and experienced the agonies of war. Her life, her experiences, and her sufferings are drawn and written down in a wise, funny, and heartbreaking black-and-white comic.
Persepolis is the story of a little girl growing up in Iran. The author tells us the story of her life in Iran from age six to fourteen. During those years she saw the overthrow of the Sha, the victory of the Islamic Revolution, and the effects of war on Iraq. The intelligent and self-confident child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of social activists, had a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
Marjane Satrapi is a smart girl and not shy to say what she is thinking. She is interested in the Revolution and wants to go on demonstrations with her parents. She is out-going and active.
The book gives a detailed portrait of her daily life in Iran and of the different contradictions between home life and public life. We receive information on the story of her family and their friends. The book has a giant range of different feelings and situations, ranging from happiness to suffering. Marjane´s child´s view of falling emperors, death, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn the history of this country and of her extraordinary family. The book is intensely personal, critical, political, and wholly original. Persepolis is a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows us that we should carry on whatever happens. We should go on with laughter and tears; we should rise up and fight for our opinion. The book in general introduces us to a little girl we cannot help but fall in love with.
The history of Iran is portrayed in a comic, so there has to be pictures. And of course there are pictures. They are simple, black, and white and the do not have that many details, but the pictures are still showing us the emotions and feelings of the characters very well. There is not much text, but those two or three sentences in the speech bubbles focus on the important things and so the reader never feels lost in the book.
That is Persepolis, and Persepolis is different. If you try to find another book ,that is written in the same style and describes the same situation, you will not find any book, that is comparable to this book. Persepolis is unique and you cannot compare it to a normal history book, which is made out of emotionless facts. The way the information is presented, and the unique style of this book lead to one thought; there isn’t really a book like Persepolis.
Reading Persepolis was an adventure. It was a trip into the world of sadness and suffering. It was also a trip with emotions and happiness. The book describes the brutal revolution in a way that no other book does. The book has a soul, and you can see the people who suffered and the reader can feel their feelings if he looks at all those descriptive pictures. The book changed my view of the revolution. Before I read the book, I just knew facts, which were simply printed on white paper without any emotion. But in Persepolis there are emotions and it is a great experience to read the book.
The New York Times Book review, reports that Persepolis is “Delectable… Dances with drama and insouciant wit.” I totally agree with the New York Times and I would highly recommend everybody who is reading this book review, to read Persepolis. The book is more than just a black and white comic with some text. It is a dramatic story of a little girl growing up in a period of suffering and death. If I had to give this book a grade or a rating I would give the book 5/5, because of all the facts in the text above.
Jonas Schallenberg, a student at Indian Springs School, says, "I am from Germany and in America for an exchange year. At Indian Springs School I am in 12th grade, even though I am just 15 years old. I wrote this book review during my Experimental Literature class and got good feedback back from teacher."