I don’t know what I can really say about Persepolis that hasn’t been said already. What I love about the first volume of Persepolis is that it’s always about how Marjane interprets the events around her, much more than it is about the events themselves. As she and her family live through the Islamic Revolution, watching its agenda shift and their country change around them, little Marjane acts on what she thinks she understands. There’s a lovely bit where she insists on spending all her time with an uncle who’s a political dissident. Although she is initially interested in him because of his history of persecution by the government, their relationship is very sweet, in the end, and his death leads to a major change in Marjane’s ideas for her future.
I like memoirs. But even if you don’t like memoirs, Persepolis is worth reading because it’s a good story. Marjane Satrapi tells the story of the revolution matter-of-factly, the atrocities of the old government and the new, and we see the development of her own thinking from a child’s simplistic view to something with more depth to it. I like that because it juxtaposes nicely with what’s happening in Iran as she matures: Marjane begins to see in shades of grey, while the new government refuses to do so. Hurrah for coming-of-age stories!
And in the second volume, Marjane goes to Austria for school and struggles to find her place there. She goes through a lot while she’s there, all depressed and isolated and using the drugs and becoming homeless, and then when she comes back to Iran finally, she no longer fits in there either. Everyone in Iran has been all with the war, and the bombing and the oppression, and she feels like her problems don’t mean anything in comparison. I found the second volume hard to read. When Marjane leaves again eventually, permanently this time, I cried. Leaving in airports is sad.