Thursday, January 10, 2008



Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 344
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge, recommended by Nick Hornby in The Polysyllabic Spree

A graphic novel that serves as the autobiography of author Marjane Saptrapi. I read the complete edition which contains "The story of a childhood" and "The story of a return". Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969 in Iran during the Shah's reign. During her lifetime she has witnessed first hand the takeovwe by the Revolution, the war between Iran and Iraq and the compulsary wearing of the veil by all woman in Iran. Her parents were very liberal and she grew up with an immense curiosity and drive to speak her mind which often got her into trouble in such a strict society. At the age of 14 her parents send her alone to Austria where she goes to school but doesn't fit in. She associates with punks and nihilists where she experiments with drugs and has her first relationship which sadly doesn't end well. After spending some time living on the streets and nearly dying she decides to return home, but starts to suffer from depression when she is back. In Iran she feels like a Westener and in the Western world she feels like an Iranian so struggles to find her place.

This was an excellent novel beautifully illustrated and told with warmth and humour despite the often tragic subjects. I am not really one for politics and don't know more than the basics, but this has given me a thorough grounding in Iranian culture and the wars going on in and near by Iran. The Western view of Iran is of oppression, particularly of woman, and it was lovely to see that behind closed doors there are parties, make-up, relationships (both straight and gay) and everything pretty much the same as over here. The only difference is if caught the penalty can range from interrogation to whipping to death.

If you don't read graphic novels, I urge you not to be put off reading this as you will miss a great story and a great piece work of politics too.

11 comments:

Marg said...

I really enjoyed this book and the follow up when I read them a while ago! Apparently there has been a movie made of the book but it is in French.

Nymeth said...

I am looking forward to reading this one even more now!

I've read good reviews of the animated movie Marg mention...I hope I get to see it after reading the book. Marjane Satrapi wrote the scrip and directed it herself, so I bet it'll be good.

Rhinoa said...

Cool thanks you guys I will keep a look out for the movie, I am sure I will be able to watch it subtitled.

Bold Blue Adventure said...

I haven't read any graphic novels, but your description definitely got me interested in this one. I may have to try it!

Rhinoa said...

Bold Blue - Please do! It's such a great story I promise.

3M said...

I plan on reading this for the graphic novel challenge. So glad you liked it!

1morechapter.com

Dewey said...

I am determined that the graphic novel challenge will change everyone's mind who "might be put off" reading one! All these great reviews will convince the entire internet that graphic novels=good lit.

I haven't read this one, but I keep meaning to, so I just now requested it from my library. They seem to have the sequel, too.

Rhinoa said...

3M - I hope you enjoy it, I look forward to reading what you think.

Dewey - I read the complete edition and defintely recommend reading the follow-up as it is about her life in Austria and her return to Iran.

Literary Feline said...

I am looking forward to reading this one this year. I've heard such good things about it. I am glad you found it to be worthwhile.

Alice Teh said...

I don't think I've read any graphic novels but this sounds like a good one to start with. :D

Andi said...

This is one of my favorite graphic novels. I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it, too!