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Review: The Complete Persepolis

August 16, 2009


The Complete Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir.  It’s hard to summarize the book without giving away too much, but I’ll give it a try.  This book provides a child’s perspective of what it was like to live in Iran during some tumultuous times – the overthrow of the Shah’s government and the Islamic Revolution.  Marjane is the only child of political parents and the great-granddaughter of an Emperor of Iran.  She was raised to be independent, outspoken and liberated.  She is frank in her portrayal of the terror inflicted on the people of Iran during this time.  I was amazed at the differences in their public and private lives.

I’ve been wanting to read The Complete Persepolis ever since I learned that it is on the curriculum of over a hundred colleges and required reading for freshmen at West Point.   Newsweek recently named it one of the 50 Books for Our Times.  When My Friend Amy issued a challenge for bloggers to  select one of the books to read and chime in with their opinion, I grabbed this one up fast.  I think Newsweek was totally right with this book, and I highly recommend it.  It is a fascinating, well written and well illustrated book and I could not put it down.  I was in college and a newlywed when most of the events in this book took place, and frankly, I was too involved with my own life to pay much attention to them.  Of course I remember the American embassy in Tehran being invaded and Americans being held hostage for over a year, but that’s about it.  I learned a lot about the political events of the time by reading The Complete Persepolis.   It is a book that can be read rather quickly, but I took my time with it because there was so much information that I wanted to absorb. One thing that has really stuck with me and made me think was this passage when Marjane’s father was speaking to her and said:

In any case, as long as there is oil in the Middle East we will never have peace.

I was impressed with Marjane’s honesty and openness in portraying herself and her family.  I admire her intelligence, outspokenness and talent.  It’s obvious that she has a great love for her native country and its people.  I would like to read more of her work and I’ve told Carl and Vance that they need to read The Complete Persepolis.  I feel sure that I will refer to parts of this book in the future.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2009 7:18 am

    This was one of my favourite reads of last year and I’m very glad you enjoyed it too. I also recommend Embroideries – while not exactly a sequel, it returns to the world of Persepolis.

  2. August 16, 2009 7:41 am

    I have been meaning to read this for a very long time, ever since one of my professors recommended it in college. None of my libraries have had it though, looks like I will just have to buy it! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it.

  3. August 16, 2009 8:19 am

    I admire you for jumped in on this challenge to read books of our times. You are setting a good example for the rest of us. I’m going to check out this Newsweek list and this book.

  4. August 16, 2009 9:26 am

    I really liked the first Persepolis, before she went away to school. It was required for my YA Lit class in library school. The second one wasn’t my favorite though.

  5. August 16, 2009 9:37 am

    This sounds like I would love it. Thanks for the review! (And by the way, did you see that Forbes recently listed West Point as the best college?)

  6. August 16, 2009 9:39 am

    Sounds like an amazing read! I am very interested in picking this one up! Great review.

  7. August 16, 2009 9:53 am

    I really loved this one as well! I read it when I was in the hospital! GREAT review!

    xoxo Amy (Park-Avenue Princess)

  8. August 16, 2009 10:02 am

    Great review! My county picked it as the county-wide read of the year for 2009. You’ll have to see the movie now — it is “animated” in the style of the graphic novel.

  9. August 16, 2009 11:53 am

    Great review! I too loved Persepolis – it’s one of my favorite graphic novels of all time.

  10. August 16, 2009 1:21 pm

    I’ve heard so many good things about Persepolis. I guess at some point in my reading I’ll have to check it out.

  11. August 16, 2009 1:34 pm

    I also have been meaning to read this forever, and I’m so very glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  12. August 16, 2009 1:43 pm

    Wonderful review! I learned so much from the this book, too .

  13. August 16, 2009 1:56 pm

    You and I are of the same time period. I remember the Iranian hostage ordeal, but was too engrossed in my own wedding festivities to take much notice.

    Thank you for an eye opening review of a book that I obviously must add to the TBR list.

  14. August 16, 2009 2:28 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the review.

  15. August 16, 2009 5:04 pm

    I enjoyed this too. I liked the first book much better than the second. The story about Iran was way more interesting than when she was in France. I liked them both though.

  16. August 16, 2009 6:47 pm

    I love learning in this way. And, I agree – it was a very good book.

  17. August 16, 2009 10:14 pm

    I’ve got to read this one, someday. It is by far the most recommended graphic novel, whenever I ask around for ideas (don’t ask — not sure why I keep doing that).

  18. August 16, 2009 11:21 pm

    I thought Persepolis was incredibly interesting. I recommended it to my mom when she was looking for non-sci-fi/fantasy graphic novels for her high school classes.

  19. stacybuckeye permalink
    August 16, 2009 11:49 pm

    Since I just finished my first graphic memoir it might be awhile before I read another, but your review makes it sound so good! I’ll add it to my list 🙂

  20. August 17, 2009 7:18 am

    I also enjoyed this book, although I much preferred the first part to the second. I liked the perspective this book gave me!

  21. August 17, 2009 9:23 am

    West Point? Really? For some reason that surprised me.

  22. Carol permalink
    August 17, 2009 9:24 am

    To be honest, I know nothing about that time period in Iran. Sounds fascinating and like I would learn a lot.

  23. August 17, 2009 10:05 am

    I am so glad you read and enjoyed this book. It is one of the first graphic novels I ever read and remains a favorite. Have you read Maus I and II yet? They are excellent as well.

  24. August 17, 2009 1:05 pm

    I’ve heard great things on the radio about this one but yours is the first “real person” review I’ve read. Now I’m really anxious to get my hands on it.

  25. August 17, 2009 5:24 pm

    I have to read those! Like I said on another blog this morning, I’m on a forever-waiting-list for Persepolis; it seems that many readers want to read these!

  26. August 18, 2009 11:23 am

    I was in high school when the Islamic Revolution and the American hostage crisis happened, so I grasped very little of the depth of it all back then. I read Persepolis I and II (before they had put both in a complete edition) when each first came out, and I felt they really helped provide a good background to the other books I’ve since read about Iran.
    I’ve also read “Embroderies”, which is mostly about women’s lives there; I seem to recall it’s a much shorter book than either Persepolis.

  27. August 18, 2009 1:17 pm

    I didn’t know Persepolis was reqd reading. I have this on my TBR and intend to read it very soon. Glad to know you liked it.

  28. justicejenniferreads permalink
    August 18, 2009 10:55 pm

    Glad to here you liked it so much. Graphic novels aren’t really my thing but this sounds like one I should give a shot.

  29. August 19, 2009 10:53 am

    This sounds like an informative and eye opening tale. Thanks for recommendation.

  30. August 19, 2009 12:20 pm

    This is a book that I have been wanting to read for a long time. I have heard nothing but good things about it, and even saw that there was a movie out, based on the book. I think I am going to move this up on my reading list and try to get to it soon. I am glad you liked it so much.

  31. August 19, 2009 6:55 pm

    I’m so glad you liked this one. It’s one of my favorites, and I had no idea it is required reading at West Point! Very cool!

  32. August 19, 2009 9:54 pm

    Sounds like an important and fascinating book. Your review inspired me to give it a whirl. I’m trying my first graphic novel soon (The Imposter’s Daughter — I won it in a giveway) so perhaps this will be a good second try.

  33. August 19, 2009 11:53 pm

    I didn’t read this as a collection. Could you tell the difference from the end of one to the beginning of another? I loved the vol. 1 but was disappointed with vol 2. I think it’s great that it’s on reading lists – I learned a ton and the graphic novel was a cool way to handle heavy info.

  34. August 23, 2009 10:52 am

    I’ve read only one graphic novel (a memoir, actually) and really loved the format. Persepolis was recommended, but I haven’t gotten to it. Thanks for the reminder about what many consider to be an important book (a book for our times, even!)

  35. August 26, 2009 5:54 pm

    I really enjoyed this one as well – great review!

  36. August 31, 2009 1:46 pm

    I don’t know much about the events covered in the book, not in depth anyway. I’ve heard good things about this book, and I’ve yet to read a graphic novel, so I’ll have to keep it in mind.


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