Book Review: Persepolis – The Story of a Childhood and The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

I’d been enamored with this graphic novel ever since I laid eyes on the cover. It is so enigmatic and suspenseful that it kept me on my tiptoes till the moment I opened it and started reading it. While I wanted to rush through the pages, I also wanted to take my time with this story.

The Persepolis that I read is a sort of an omnibus that has both parts of the story. On the whole, Persepolis is the autobiographical account of the author from being an Iranian child, facing repercussions of her country’s turbulent history. While Persepolis #1, or The Story of a Childhood is the story of Satrapi as a child – her journey from Tehran to Vienna, Persepolis #2 or The Story of a Return is, you guessed right, her return to her country.

With such supportive parents and grandmother as hers, Marjane, even as a child, was curious, had intelligent notions, and posed questions that only a child can. As Iran sank into turmoil, the need to get out of the country also grew. For to what end was living in an oppressive regime than to cater to the unintelligible minds of unnecessary revolutions?

Persepolis has such beautiful illustrations that the first time I opened the book, it almost made me cry. Its simplicity and the meanings it spells out makes it all the more majestic. It will shake you to the very core. With Marjane Satrapi being a feminist (yes, I can term her that), there are more times than one that I was absolutely proud and went, “You go, girl!”

Persepolis is more realistic than reality itself. While in real life, we don’t want to broach certain topics, Persepolis does it abundantly. It talks. And how! From the reality behind fickleness to that of selfishness, from intra-national racism to personal heartbreaks, from thinking about how man’s actions force our belief in God out of our system to the difference in social classes, from the importance of rightful forgiveness to looking out for oneself – it asks the right questions and makes you think.

Most importantly and at the most basic level, Persepolis shows how impressionable children’s minds are and how ideas that float around them mould them into the type adults they become. Of course, it all depends on us as to how we raise our children. If we strive to become modern, well-thinking parents like Taji and Ebi Satrapi, I think the world will become a lot better. Not only parents in countries like Iran, but those around the world – those who are and those who are about to be – could benefit a lot from learning about Taji and Ebi’s thinking.

This brings me to an important question that I asked myself. Why should only parents benefit from Taji and Ebi? Why can it not be that people in general pick up from the inspiring qualities that they exude from page to page? Why can’t everyone be the encouraging human beings that they simply are that translates into the way they handle parenthood? But I think these are difficult questions to ask because not everyone thinks the same and because the world is not a wish-granting factory. [Yes, I did. No more, though. :P] But mostly, I think not everyone can be like them because not everyone has read Persepolis. *runs away*

The moment I finished reading Persepolis, I felt empty, even though it ended on a hopeful note. I’m rationalizing it to be because it ended way sooner than I expected. And I realize now that I’ve been saying this a lot. In a way, this realization fills me with a certain, inexplicable joy because it means that I’ve been on a spree, picking up and reading good books. J

As I run out of words to gush about this wonderful graphic novel, all I can say is that bluntness is this novel’s biggest USP. Don’t believe me? Here’s an example:

Is it her fault that she was born where she was born?

Alas, dear child! If the world could only understand that it isn’t, it would be a much better place to live in!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Amazon India.

Click on the image below (my Amazon Affiliate link) to buy the Persepolis Omnibus:

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