An illustrated series of graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis is an autobiographical depiction of her childhood and formative years growing up in Iran amidst the Islamic Revolution. First written in French and published in 4 volumes from 2000 to 2003, the popularity of the series led to the English translations that were then published in 2 volumes - one in 2003 and the other in 2004 respectively. This means that the Persepolis series has been around for almost 18 years now, and they have been part of our very own Moon Classics collection since the store opened, yet I am ashamed to say that I hadn't read this masterpiece until just a week ago.

I heard many great things from friends and colleagues who have read the book over the years, and I finally thought that it was about time I delved into Marjane's journey myself. I started reading the book with the preconceived notion that it is going to be a really sad and depressing graphic novel, since the synopsis of the book literally mentioned "coming of age.. during the Islamic Revolution", "a country plagued by political upheaval" and "trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming — both sweet and terrible." I was so prepared to feel all levels of sadness while reading the book, but the first few pages caught me by surprise. Marjane illustrated her circumstances and life with such wit and candidness that it hardly came off as a sob story.

 

Life in Iran during Marjane's growing up years may seem serious and unthinkable from the perspective of a Singaporean woman (me) who hasn't known of war, serious gender discrimination, or the lack of freedom. However Marjane wrote so brilliantly of the events that took place: showing how fearless and honest she is in showing all the doubts and failures growing up and even taking life with a bit of humour as portrayed in this series.

Other than just mentioning the political situation in Iran, she also shared her hardships during her move to Vienna and how life away from Iran may not be a bed of roses. The book perfectly portrayed the sobering reality of life - that there are different struggles for many and life sometimes just serves you different challenges no matter who you are or where you are. There is no escaping, and not everyone gets to live in endless comfort and security.

Marjane fully understood how impossible it is for any human being to live in constant oppressive sadness and stress, and how people needed to live, smile and move on no matter where they lived and what their circumstances are. Hence, she is able to write and illustrate her story with such tact and talent that encompasses the seriousness of political episodes and social struggles, with a well balanced pinch of humour without ridiculing the seriousness and gravity of the situations. It was honestly a refreshing read that kept me going and I found it so hard for me to put down the book. The entire experience felt like an intimate chat with a friend over tea, and I just wanted to keep listening to what Marjane has to say. Is it even possible that a 341 page long graphic novel felt way too short and that I wished it could have gone on longer?

This book is definitely worthy to be a long-standing selection in our Moon Classics collection, and there is good reason why it sells out every time we stock the title at The Moon! If you are looking for a read that can bring value in broadening your perspectives without having to read something too heavy, The Complete Persepolis is just the perfect book for you.

You may grab a copy of the book here: https://www.themoon.com.sg/collections/moon-classics/products/the-complete-persepolis


Keep on reading everyone!


x Jasmin (Commerce Manager @ The Moon)

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