Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

book cover of Persepolis

My sister bought this book years ago for a university literature class and since then I’ve been begging her to let me borrow it. Finally, she came through with the goods – and what an amazing read it’s been!

Marjane Satrapi moves elegantly through topics like the Iranian Revolution, Islamic fundamentalism, the Iran-Iraq war, “exile” and return. She’s able to convey so much with so little: the weight of Iran’s history and traditions, the brutal regime they lived under and feared before the revolution, and the brutal yet different regime that replaced it; the tragedy of war; the alienation of living in “exile” and the alienation of returning afterwards.

I also adored Marjane herself, as depicted in this memoir: precocious and sassy as a child, unable to restrain her outspoken tendencies as a teenager, and a rebellious young adult who keeps pushing the boundaries of respectable behaviour. She is a flawed character – selfish at times, and especially as the book went on a bit judgemental and withdrawn – but I found this refreshing. I feel like a lot of the time, male characters are “allowed” to be like this, and I appreciated seeing a female version for once.

In English these were originally published in two volumes, and of those I’d say that I preferred the first slightly over the second. The second volume did remind me somewhat of the 2011 film Circumstance, as another depiction of youth culture and rebellion in post-revolutionary Iran. Regardless, Persepolis as a whole is well-deserving of its stellar reputation.


a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a socialist and a feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.