Graphic Nonfiction Review: Persepolis

September 11, 2017 Uncategorized 10

Graphic Nonfiction Review: PersepolisTitle: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis, #1)
Author: Marjane Satrapi, Mattias Ripa
Source: Library
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: The images made it easier to learn from this story and made it more moving, but it was disappointingly short.

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.” (source)

This is my first experience with graphic nonfiction and I’m glad I finally picked up this book I’ve heard such good things about. It was a fascinating reading experience. Initially, I wasn’t sure about the style of the images. They are stark in black and white and didn’t immediately grab me with their beauty. However, as I read on, I found myself impressed with the way the author captured emotions in her images. Both facial expressions and more abstract images really brought the text to life. The black and white images also felt appropriate for a story that had such heavy themes.

The beginning of this book felt a little too full of exposition, but I think that was critical for any reader sharing my unfamiliarity with the topic. The story got more personal and more emotionally engaging as I went. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about the graphic format of this book. In some ways it did enhance the story. It brought emotion into the story and made it easier to learn from. My only complaint is that story felt so short. I enjoyed it enough, I’d have loved more text. I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say that it felt light. It was a deep, personal look at a tough situation and I learned a lot from it. I just wanted more of it and I’m honestly not sure if this means I prefer more traditional nonfiction or just that I should pick up the sequel!

10 Responses to “Graphic Nonfiction Review: Persepolis”

  1. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    I always find graphic, er, narratives to be too short and go by too fast. I do enjoy how the pictures contribute to the story, and perhaps I should pore over them more at length, but compared to a “regular” book there always feels like less substance.

    That said, this was a fascinating perspective on another girl who was growing up at the same time I was, but in such a different world. I would recommend the next part which takes Marjane into adulthood.
    Lory @ Emerald City Book Review recently posted…Classics Club: The Return of the NativeMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Exactly! Yes! Despite the heavy topics this dealt with, it did feel less substantial than I would have liked. It was really interesting anyway and I expect I’ll eventually get to the second half.

  2. Laurie C

    We had a really good discussion of Persepolis in our genre study group when we talked about graphic novels. (It was our benchmark title for everyone to read.) I didn’t go on to the sequel, but your post reminds me that I meant to. I’m not a visual person, so I don’t naturally gravitate towards graphic novels (fiction or nonfiction) but I just read Displacement by Lucy Knisley, a graphic memoir about her accompanying her very elderly and frail grandparents on a cruise, and it’s amazing how moving they can be.

  3. Heather

    I read this years ago and then read the sequel, too. I don’t remember which one I liked more, or anything super specific about either one, but I did really enjoy them both. I always love hearing from people about the culture in which they grew up, especially when it’s so different from my own.
    Heather recently posted…Fearless: The Historic Story of One Navy SEAL’s Sacrifice in the Hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the Unwavering Devotion of the Woman Who Loved Him by Eric BlehmMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      It was really interesting to hear about the author’s childhood in Iran. I’m sure t was a different and more personal perspective than I’d have gotten from just reading a history book.

  4. Geoff W

    I’m so glad to see more and more people reading this! I loved both books, the first one is stronger so be forewarned!

    As a side note, I think most of the memoir/autobiographical graphic works I’ve read use a similar one color style – it’s almost like they’re trying to make it less real.
    Geoff W recently posted…Bookish Things September 2017My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks, that’s good to now! I probably will pick the second book up eventually, but I didn’t love this enough to bump it to the top of my to-read list.