May 8, 2009

Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

So this is the first graphic novel that I have ever read.  But since it is autobiographical, can we really call it a graphic novel.  Maybe a graphic autobiography?  Anyways, lots of pictures!

This book has been made into a film (animated - called Persepolis) that was co-written and co-directed by the author of the book.  I saw the film just over a year ago at the film festival, and it received a standing ovation from the audience that I was a part of.  And the book is as good as the film, only more so.  Since the film was adapted from the book, by the author of the book, it was a condensed version of the book, but nothing was changed (which is usually my biggest complaint about film adaptations).  The only difference is that the book has more details and events.

The author and main character of the book was born in Iran in 1970, and that fact alone should imply that she saw a lot of history in the making.  She witnessed the overthrow of the Shah; followed by the Islamic revolution and the fundamentalist regime.  Her parents sent her to study in Europe where she suffered as a misfit in an alien culture.  She hit rock bottom, moved back to Iran where she completed university, then at the end of the book moves to France to escape the rules imposed by the Iranian government.

I do have a personal interest in this story, as my roommate from university, as well as my brother-in-law both grew up in Iran, slightly younger than Marji, but witness to the same period of history, before moving to Canada.  Interesting that on my last book-buying spree, I picked up a couple of books set in Iran.  I wonder if the increased interest by the general public in that part of the world is increasing the number of books telling stories set in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc?

I don't know what I was expecting from a graphic book (I won't call it a novel).  I certainly wasn't expecting it to read as a book, but it really does.  It is laid out in chapters, and I have been reading a chapter or two before bed all week.  I think that the pictures made me slow down a bit, and appreciate the story a bit more.  The format certainly works for this book, and I will probably try another graphic book at some point.

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