Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

4.4 75
by Marjane 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,

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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 Steinem

I 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 Caramelo

I 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 Gorazde

This 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 Hassan

Blending 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 Myrhh

The New York Times
Satrapi's drawing style is bold and vivid. She paints a thick inky black-on-white, in a faux-naif pastiche of East and West. Persepolis deploys all the paranoid Expressionism latent in the comic strip's juxtapositions of scale -- the child dwarfed by looming parents, would-be rescuers dwarfed by giant policemen guarding the locked doors to a movie theater that's been set on fire -- but when Satrapi depicts a schoolyard brawl, it's straight from Persian miniature.

Persepolis was first published to enormous success in Satrapi's adopted France, where adult comic books are a long-favored form. The English edition comes with an introduction expressing the author's desire to show Americans that Iran is not only a country of fanatics and terrorists. The book could hardly have come at a better moment. — Fernanda Eberstadt
Liberation (France)
A triumph. . . . Like Maus, Persepolis is one of those comic books capable of seducing even those most allergic to the genre. The author's masterstroke is to allow us to experience history from within her family, with irony and tenderness.
USA Today
… the simple lines and shapes of Satrapi's drawings lend poignancy to the story. The fact that she is able to portray such a vast range of emotions with a few simple strokes of a pen is impressive. That she does this consistently for 153 pages is a mighty achievement. — Christopher Theokas
The New Yorker
The Turkish novelist and translator Güneli Gün grew up on an Aegean island once used to quarantine pilgrims returning from Mecca. In Remembering Childhood in the Middle East: Memoirs From A Century of Change, an anthology edited by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, Gün recalls her anger at her parents' refusal to love Quarantine Island. Her mother missed cosmopolitan social life; her father, a doctor, ridiculed his staff and railed about " 'the agony of the East,' by which he meant the scientific backwardness he believed Islam had 'brought upon' us."

Amid the jarring disruptions of life in Tehran during the nineteen-eighties, Marjane Satrapi could at least confide in her parents. Her comic-book memoir, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, describes her pain at seeing her country descend into fundamentalism and violence. Satrapi was patriotic; she was relieved to see her father cheer when the BBC confirmed that Iranian bombers had hit Baghdad. Later, though, the slogans scrawled on city walls "To die a martyr is to inject blood into the veins of society") made her fearful that the country's turn toward bellicosity was too extreme.

Firoozeh Dumas' family left Iran permanently in 1976, and missed the seismic shifts back home. In Funny In Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian In America, Dumas remembers how in 1977 her parents accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to welcome the Shah. Undeterred by a threatening note slipped under their hotel-room door ("Dear Brainwashed Cowards, You are nothing but puppets of the corrupt Shah . . ."), the family finally reassessed the trip after demonstrators attacked Iranians on a lawn near the White House with nail-studded sticks. Their response? To take the first flight back to California. (Kate Taylor)
Publishers Weekly
Satrapi's autobiography is a timely and timeless story of a young girl's life under the Islamic Revolution. Descended from the last Emperor of Iran, Satrapi is nine when fundamentalist rebels overthrow the Shah. While Satrapi's radical parents and their community initially welcome the ouster, they soon learn a new brand of totalitarianism is taking over. Satrapi's art is minimal and stark yet often charming and humorous as it depicts the madness around her. She idolizes those who were imprisoned by the Shah, fascinated by their tales of torture, and bonds with her Uncle Anoosh, only to see the new regime imprison and eventually kill him. Thanks to the Iran-Iraq war, neighbors' homes are bombed, playmates are killed and parties are forbidden. Satrapi's parents, who once lived in luxury despite their politics, struggle to educate their daughter. Her father briefly considers fleeing to America, only to realize the price would be too great. "I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?" he asks his wife. Iron Maiden, Nikes and Michael Jackson become precious symbols of freedom, and eventually Satrapi's rebellious streak puts her in danger, as even educated women are threatened with beatings for improper attire. Despite the grimness, Satrapi never lapses into sensationalism or sentimentality. Skillfully presenting a child's view of war and her own shifting ideals, she also shows quotidian life in Tehran and her family's pride and love for their country despite the tumultuous times. Powerfully understated, this work joins other memoirs-Spiegelman's Maus and Sacco's Safe Area Goradze-that use comics to make the unthinkable familiar. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Marjane Satrapi was nine years old when the Islamic Revolution reintroduced a religious state in Iran. Her life changed dramatically under the new regime. It became obligatory for her to wear the veil, her previously co-ed school was divided into separate schools for boys and girls, and fear began to rule her world whenever she was outside of her home. The only child of outspoken revolutionaries, Marjane found it nearly impossible to comply with the demands that were made by the new government. Her resultant disobedient and eventual violent behavior put her family in danger, and she was sent to live in Europe at the age of 14. Persepolis is an absolutely breathtaking memoir. The b/w illustrations are simple but they eloquently convey Marjane's perceptions and memories of her childhood in Iran. Satrapi's writing style is straightforward, and the story is told in a way that is easily accessible. Although terrorism and war form the basis of Marjane's childhood experience, we learn through her story that the actions of a few extremists do not reflect the attitude of an entire nation. This is presented in a nontraditional format (similar to Maus, by Art Spiegelman); however, its curricular advantages should not be overlooked. It gives the people of Iran a face and a voice through their spokeswoman, Marjane Satrapi, and the humanization of a people who often appear far away and different is a benefit not to be ignored. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.) KLIATT Codes: JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Random House, Pantheon, 153p. illus., Ages 12 to adult.
—Heather Lisowski
Library Journal
This extraordinary autobiography tells the story of Satrapi's early life as a girl in late 1970s and early 1980s Iran. Through her young eyes, the reader sees the overthrow of the Shah, the Islamic fundamentalist rise to power, and the war with Iraq. Satrapi was a religious girl who grew up in a progressive family and went to a French school; but after the Islamic revolution, she was forced to wear the veil and ended up rejecting God. Under increasing threat from Iraqi bombings and an oppressive government, Satrapi and her family still managed to enjoy forbidden parties, games, and music (such as Iron Maiden). This fueled Satrapi's own adolescent rebellion, which eventually got her into trouble. Satrapi's simple, cartoony, even cute black-and-white art allows for easy identification with the characters and expertly reflects their varying emotions. When first published in France, where Satrapi now lives, this book won several European comics awards-and it's a prime candidate for American award nominations as well. A remarkable, revealing, and sometimes startling account, this is sure to be one of the most important graphic novels of the year. Highly recommended for older teens and adults. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/03.] Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Marji tells of her life in Iran from the age of 10, when the Islamic revolution of 1979 reintroduced a religious state, through the age of 14 when the Iran-Iraq war forced her parents to send her to Europe for safety. This story, told in graphic format with simple, but expressive, black-and-white illustrations, combines the normal rebelliousness of an intelligent adolescent with the horrors of war and totalitarianism. Marji's parents, especially her freethinking mother, modeled a strong belief in freedom and equality, while her French education gave her a strong faith in God. Her Marxist-inclined family initially favored the overthrow of the Shah, but soon realized that the new regime was more restrictive and unfair than the last. The girl's independence, which made her parents both proud and fearful, caused them to send her to Austria. With bold lines and deceptively uncomplicated scenes, Satrapi conveys her story. From it, teens will learn much of the history of this important area and will identify with young Marji and her friends. This is a graphic novel of immense power and importance for Westerners of all ages. It will speak to the same audience as Art Spiegelman's Maus (Pantheon, 1993).-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Zadie Smith
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.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375714573
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/01/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
361
Product dimensions:
6.01(w) x 8.85(h) x 0.45(d)
Lexile:
GN380L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“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 Steinem

I 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 Caramelo

I 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 Gorazde

This 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 Hassan

Blending 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 Myrhh

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