Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return

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In Persepolis, heralded by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the freshest and most original memoirs of our day,” Marjane Satrapi dazzled us with her heartrending memoir-in-comic-strips about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Here is the continuation of her fascinating story. In 1984, Marjane flees fundamentalism and the war with Iraq to begin a new life in Vienna. Once there, she faces the trials of adolescence far from her friends and family, and while she soon carves out a place for herself among...

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In Persepolis, heralded by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the freshest and most original memoirs of our day,” Marjane Satrapi dazzled us with her heartrending memoir-in-comic-strips about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Here is the continuation of her fascinating story. In 1984, Marjane flees fundamentalism and the war with Iraq to begin a new life in Vienna. Once there, she faces the trials of adolescence far from her friends and family, and while she soon carves out a place for herself among a group of fellow outsiders, she continues to struggle for a sense of belonging.

Finding that she misses her home more than she can stand, Marjane returns to Iran after graduation. Her difficult homecoming forces her to confront the changes both she and her country have undergone in her absence and her shame at what she perceives as her failure in Austria. Marjane allows her past to weigh heavily on her until she finds some like-minded friends, falls in love, and begins studying art at a university. However, the repression and state-sanctioned chauvinism eventually lead her to question whether she can have a future in Iran.

As funny and poignant as its predecessor, Persepolis 2 is another clear-eyed and searing condemnation of the human cost of fundamentalism. In its depiction of the struggles of growing up—here compounded by Marjane’s status as an outsider both abroad and at home—it is raw, honest, and incredibly illuminating.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In 2003, Marjane Satrapi's comic-strip memoir, Persepolis, startled and captivated readers with its child's view of Iran's descent into fundamentalism, repression, and violence. This sequel presents the story of Marjane's reluctant return to her homeland after a self-imposed exile in Vienna. Her homecoming forces her to confront changes in both herself and the land of her birth.
From the Publisher
"Wildly charming . . . Like a letter from a friend, in this case a wonderful friend: honest, strong-willed, funny, tender, impulsive, and self-aware."
—Luc Sante, The New York Times Book Review

"The most original coming-of-age story from the Middle East yet."

"Elegant, simple panels tell this story of growth, loneliness, and homecoming with poignant charm and wit."
The Washington Post

"Humorous and heartbreaking . . . A welcome look beind the headlines and into the heart and mind of one very wise, wicked, and winning young woman."

"Scary, moving, and etched out with a simplicity that speaks volumes. The arist is less a talent than a force."
The Austin Chronicle

"Irresistible . . . Satrapi's story is too important—and too fascinating—to let go of."
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Powerful . . . A great, engaging tale . . . As deeply satisfying as a good, old-fashioned prose novel and as visually delightful as old picture books from childhood."
—Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Every revolution needs a chronicler like Satrapi."
San Francisco Chronicle

"It is our good fortune that Satrapi has never stopped visiting Iran in her mind."

"Persepolis 2 is much more than the chronicle of a young woman’s struggle into adulthood; it’s a brilliant, painful, rendering of the contrast between East and West, between the repression of wartime Iran and the social, political, and sexual freedoms of 1980’s Austria. There’s something universal about Satrapi’s search for self-definition, but her experiences in Vienna and Tehran are rendered with such witty particularity, and such heartbreaking honesty, that by the end of this book you’ll feel you’ve gained an intimate friend."
—Julie Orringer, author of How To Breathe Underwater

"Marjane Satrapi's books are a revelation. They're funny, they're sad, they're hugely readable. Most importantly, they remind you that the media sometimes tell you the facts but rarely tell you the truth. In one afternoon Persepolis will teach you more about Iran, about being an outsider, about being human, than you could learn from a thousand hours of television documentaries and newspaper articles. And you will remember it for a very long time."
—Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Luc Sante
Satrapi's voice is as artfully artless as her graphic style, never giving any indication of effort or calculation but simply communicating, in a way that feels unmediated, like a letter from a friend, in this case a wonderful friend: honest, strong-willed, funny, tender, impulsive, self-aware. It's hard saying goodbye at the end, but the end of the story marks the beginning of her ability to tell it.
The New York Times
Tara Bahrampour
Rendered in stark, woodcut-like panels, the books captured attention in the United States and Europe partly because they shed light on an era when Iran was too closed to outsiders and too dangerous for Iranians to be depicted with any real depth. Through personal, often painful anecdotes, Satrapi explains how the Westernized country of the shah was transformed so quickly into a surreal world of doublespeak and double lives.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Part one of Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel found her surviving war, the Islamic Revolution, religious oppression and the execution of several close friends. If part two covers less traumatic events, it's also more subtle and, in some ways, more moving. Sent by her liberal, intellectual parents from Tehran to Vienna to get an education and escape the religious police, rebellious but vulnerable teenage Satrapi learns about secular freedom's pitfalls. Struggling in school, falling in with misfits and without a support group, she ends up dealing drugs for a boyfriend and eventually finds herself homeless on the streets. Forced to return to Iran, Satrapi must once again take up the veil, but learns to live within the constraints of her native land, which border on the surreal. For instance, while Satrapi's racing to catch a bus, the religious police tell her to stop running so her bottom doesn't make "obscene" movements. "Well, then, don't look at my ass!" she angrily responds. The book's cornerstone is her relationship with her parents, who seem to have enough faith in her to let her make the wrong decisions, as when she marries an egotistical artist. Satrapi's art is deceptively simple: it's capable of expressing a wide range of emotion and capturing subtle characterization with the bend of a line. Poignant and unflinching, this is a universally insightful coming-of-age story. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
This is the sequel to Persepolis, the highly praised memoir of a girl's childhood in Iran. Persepolis ends when 14-year old Marjane left Iran; Persepolis 2 begins when she arrived in Austria. Unfortunately, Marjane experienced culture shock and found it difficult to fit in. Partying with those crazy young Europeans only made matters worse, as it introduced her to hard drugs. Eventually, Marjane ended up living on the street. She decided to go back to Iran, a totalitarian state where women are denied freedoms as basic as how to dress. There she went to art school, got married, got divorced, and finally left Iran again. If you don't have the hardcover edition of Persepolis 2, by all means purchase the paperback. Although this is the type of graphic novel that librarians will like more than their young charges, I wholeheartedly recommend both Persepolis volumes. The author's b/w art is simple but expressive, focusing on her characters and their emotional states. Satrapi is quite funny, and very honest about her own foibles (she thinks the world should revolve around her). Persepolis 2 contains vulgar language (both the f-bomb and the s-bomb) and adult situations, so you may want to think twice before giving this to younger patrons. KLIATT Codes: SA*—Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Random House, Pantheon, 187p. illus., Ages 15 to adult.
—George Galuschak
Library Journal
Satrapi's first Persepolis book, chronicling her life as a child in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and the war with Iraq, was one of the best and most widely praised graphic novels of 2003. This second volume picks up the story as she arrives in Vienna to attend high school and recounts her difficult, though not friendless, assimilation into a far more liberal culture. She's stung by prejudice and shocked when her friends first engage in casual sex. When she returns to her homeland, she faces another culture shock, as her now-entrenched free-thinking attitude makes acceptance of everyday repression even tougher. Feeling like a woman without a country, she must decide where her future lies. As with the first volume, Satrapi's simple drawings are very effective, and the story is laced with humor and surprising instances of Western infiltration of Eastern culture. Satrapi movingly portrays the love and wisdom of her parents, who are determined to let her live her own life, and of her grandmother, who reproaches her when she strays too far. Like the first volume, this remarkable memoir is highly recommended for older teens and adults. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/04.] Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Pantheon, 2003), Satrapi vividly described her early life in Iran. This second installment covers the period after the 1979 Revolution when, at 14, she was sent to Vienna for a freer education than that allowed in her newly fundamentalist country. At first, the distinct differences in her life were overwhelming and exciting. During the next four years, she made new friends, some very liberal and some quite conservative, had several relationships, became increasingly aware of the sexual freedom of her new milieu, and even dealt drugs for a boyfriend. Eventually, she ended up living on the streets. She became ill and returned home, a somewhat liberated 18-year-old in a repressive land. She married, mistakenly thinking that would allow her freedom, and graduated from art school. At the end of this volume, feeling out of place in her homeland and unhappy in her marriage, she has divorced and is preparing to move to France with the blessing of her understanding parents. (A third volume is soon to be translated.) Satrapi's simple-seeming, black-and-white drawings add a surprisingly expressive depth to her already compelling story. Teens will appreciate this memoir on many levels, identifying with the feelings of alienation and misunderstanding, if not the actual events. Young people who have had to flee to new environments will identify even more.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375714665
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/2/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 67,880
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.87 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

MARJANE SATRAPI was born in Rasht, Iran. She now lives in Paris, where she is a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers throughout the world, including The New Yorker and The New York Times. She is the author of Persepolis, Persepolis 2, Embroideries, Chicken with Plums, and several children's books. She cowrote and codirected the animated feature film version of Persepolis, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Her  most recent film was a live-action version of Chicken with Plums.

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Reading Group Guide

The questions and discussion topics that follow are designed to enhance your group’s reading of Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi. Persepolis 2 begins where Persepolis ends, with Marjane leaving Iran and arriving in Austria to attend high school and live with family friends. After four years filled with loneliness, confusion and prejudice, Marjane returns to her parents in Iran. We observe her difficult homecoming and the life she manages to carve out for herself–friends, university, romance–before the repression and the relentless, state-sanctioned chauvinism force her to face whether she can have a future in her homeland. Funny and heartbreaking, edgy and searingly observant, Persepolis 2 follows the life of Marjane and her country.

1. Compare Persepolis 2 to other stories of the immigrant experience you’ve read (perhaps The House on Mango Street, The House of Sand and Fog, The Joy Luck Club) or to what you imagine emigrating to a new country to be like. What are the basic difficulties shared by immigrants? What does one gain and lose by leaving one’s country and adopting a new one? How does one calculate/weigh the gains and losses? Why does Marjane leave Iran, return, and then leave again? Will she always be “a Westerner in Iran, an Iranian in the West”?

2. How do you think Marjane’s experience would have been similar or different if she had gone to a high school in the United States, in your hometown? Would you have befriended her?

3. Why is adolescence an especially difficult time to move to a new country? Or even to a new city? What is universal about Marjane’s high school experience? What is unusual about her situation? Compare/contrast her high school experience to your own.

4. How is Persepolis 2 particular to its time? How does the cultural and political atmosphere of the 1980s affect Marjane? What trends (in attitude, dress) does Marjane refer to and adopt in Austria that are specific to the 1980s? What does the book teach you about that time? What were you doing in the 1980s?

5. What are the similarities and differences between the little girl in Persepolis and the more mature Marjane in Persepolis 2? How has she changed? In what ways have her experiences affected her personality? And how has her personality affected her experiences?

6. What does Marjane learn from her experiences with drugs, homelessness, depression, and a suicide attempt? How did she slip into those periods? What external and internal forces brought her to take to living on the streets? How does she overcome these obstacles and transform herself into a stronger woman?

7. How is this story different in comic strip form than if it were a straight prose memoir? What do the black and white images add to the narrative? What has Satrapi emphasized and what has she overlooked by telling her story in a non-traditional manner?

8. How is Marjane’s political sense/being formed? Which experiences and people most influence her and pique her interest in politics?

9. Persepolis, the first volume, received much praise and sold well across the United States. How do you explain its appeal? Why is a book about growing up in Iran succeeding in the United States at this time? What drew you to this book? What have you learned about Iran? How is Iran’s recent history inextricably entwined with Marjane’s story?

10. What have you learned about university life in Tehran? Describe how the authorities enforce the separation of the sexes, and how the students circumvent these rules. If you’ve read Reading Lolita in Tehran, compare the life of those women with that of Marjane and her friends.

11. In the beginning of Persepolis 2, Marjane wants to become “a liberated and emancipated woman.” By the end, do you think she achieves this goal? In what ways is this story a typical coming-of-age tale filled with obstacles that the protagonist must overcome on her journey to adulthood? How is this similar or different to coming-of-age stories that you’ve read?

12. Persepolis 2 is filled with vibrant secondary characters. Describe some of them. Describe the men in Marjane’s life and her relationships with them. Who stands out as the most memorable and influential person on Marjane?

13. Why does Marjane frame an innocent man while waiting for her boyfriend one afternoon? How is she betraying her family as well as the man himself? How does she redeem herself in her grandmother’s eyes? While in Austria, Marjane tries to assimilate and denies being Iranian, “betraying my parents and my origins”? How and why does she betray them? What are the consequences of this? Do you think her betrayals are justified?

14. How do tradition, family, duty, opportunity and memory each play a role in determining whether Marjane returns to Europe or not by the end of the book? Why do Marjane’s parents encourage her to leave both times, as a 14-year-old and as a 22-year-old, though they remain in Iran?

15. Despite being forced to wear the veil in Iran and hating it, Satrapi recently wrote an article in The Guardian (UK) newspaper against banning the veil in French schools and stating that forcing girls not to wear the veil is as bad as forcing them to do so. Do you agree with her stance? Describe the role of the veil in Persepolis 2. What is its religious and social purpose? How do the women deal with wearing the veil?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    The book i read was Persepolis 2 The Story Of A Return by Marjane Satrapi. This book spoke to me that not everything is
    easy as you may think it is. People have a hard time living by themself and wouldn't have the best time there could be. Many people would say oh it would fun living by yourself and it will be great parents not telling you what to do all the time. Like for example persepolis she had a hard time she was in war and didnt see her parents as much. Before that happen she started to hang out with people you wouldn't expect her hanging out with.She did drugs and started smoking. One this that i was very inspire by was that even though she did drugs and smoke she studied very hard and passed her test.
    Something that I was very curious about was that she didnt know as much as i thought she would. It must of feel weird not knowing something at a older age. The one thing that I think that I didn't really understand was that a women and a guy couldn't be seen with each other without marriage papers.
    I like this book it got me very interesting and i was very surprised. I would of never imagine me reading this type of book I as very glad that i did. This book had a lot of things she went some of her ex-boyfriends were more unexpected then I thought, she found out that one of her ex-boyfriend was gay and one cheated on her.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2008

    AP World History Review: Interesting view

    Persepolis one and two were outstanding books because of the opposite views of Western society that are posed by the author. Marjane Satrapi, as a young child, felt a strong sense of nationalism and urged her parents to engage themselves in politics not only politically, but physically as well. As she grew older, however, Marjane drifted away from her close bonds to the ideas of Iranian freedom and slowly took on the vague image of a Westerner. From her travels throughout Europe, she established a viewpoint from the difference regions of the world and she learned many ideals that had once been foreign to her. However, after her travels and misfortunes in Europe, she once again developed a hungering for her old nation, Iran. Through trials and tribulations in Europe, she had come to appreciate her home country, even though problems lingered with the government. Still, however, marriage at a fairly young age took a toll on her life. Her viewpoints, despite being altered slightly in Europe remained, for the most part, the same. Thus, I would recommend these books to anyone who is wishing to learn not only more about Iranian history, but also about the views of Middle Easterners about Western civilization.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2007

    A reviewer

    I really enjoyed the graphic novel 'Persepolis 2' because it is a book that would grab your attention. it was basically about a teen age girl named Marjane that was sent from Iran to a boarding school in Europe because of the war in Iran. Marjane was kicked out of the school and was homeless for three months and went to a friend house and spoke to her parents. she went back to Iran and meet a guy named reza she married him but left him behind and went to France

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2006


    This book is crazy it talks about a girl named Marjane who lived during the Iraqian War. It was funny to me how she lived her life. But she shouldent have gone past the limit and doing drugs to have pleasure in her life. This book was really good and I would recommend this book. :]

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2005

    A Woman of the world for the world

    This piece of literature is almost fundamental to the persons living in war and especially for those who live in absence of war, but feel the blows. Throughout, I came away with the sense that Americans and Easterners are not as cookie-cut as the media makes out. We do not belong to one group that classifies us, we belong to the world in it's entirety. Marjane takes us to this ultimate feeling and to a place deep in her heart for all to see and hear.

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