“I want to be justice, love and the wrath of God all in one.”
For some reason, I find myself with a certain level of difficulty of sharing my thoughts on this particular book. Not that to was a difficult read – not at all. It was one of the easiest, however, it did deal with one of the most sensitive and difficult topics.
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, is the first book in the duology by Marjane Satrapi. In this illustrated memoir, she reminisces her life in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution and the Iran–Iraq War – a time of drastic changes in ideology, outfits, and levels of humanity. A time of insane oppression and cruelty.
The book remains true to the suddenness of the situation. There isn’t a gradual approach to prominent changes and situations. Everything feels as close to sudden, as the author might have felt while going through it in reality, as it can for someone who reads this graphic account.
One of these changes was the dress code – the veil.
“We didn’t really like to wear the veil, especially since we didn’t understand why we have to”
What annoyed me the most was the part where these oppressors explain their pathetic minds as to why Veils and Chadors are necessary for a woman’s life. I fail to wrap my head around the fact that we still have people with such a mentality and belief even after so many years!
Another change – young boys being lured to fight in battles as soldiers with a promise of a better after-life with “plenty of food, women and houses made of gold and diamonds”
They were forced to become soldiers as soon as they entered their teens.
The schools followed the concept of brainwashing the kids and train them to believe what the oppressors wanted them to. Imagine the ones who fell for it, imagine their lives and the lives connected to them.
The artwork is very expressive of the battle one had to fight with the invasion and the irrational changes it brought at every step. It’s unbearable to imagine a life where listening to your favourite music, wearing denim and sneakers, adorning your room walls with your favourite posters and more is a punishable crime. It’s unbearable to imagine a life where comparing it to a puppet’s can no longer be used as a metaphor but only lived as reality.
Imagine a 14-year-old girl, with a modern and forward upbringing and an open mind, practically forced to believe that she’ll have to live and breathe as per the new authorities, who had to stop being a teenager overnight and witness violence and her friends dying first hand. Unbearable.
It is definitely a must read for those who aren’t familiar with this part of history and how things for people in Iran changed drastically.
The book presents honest artwork which will help, specially, the young readers to be introduced to and understand a part of life in Iran.
However! As for someone like me, who – not an expert on stories set in these times but – has read quite a few books based on this heartbreaking situation, wasn’t able to find an emotional bond with the protagonist. Though, I did feel anger for the inhuman activities that people started to follow in the name of God.
I’m not sure why but I wasn’t able to get an insight Marjane’s personal views on the time’s politics and her innermost feelings. Maybe because she depicts her life in it as the 14-year-old girl that she was during the time? Possible.
Having said that, I’m hoping to find what I felt missing and get a better understanding of Marjane’s life, in the next book.
What are your thoughts on Persepolis? I recently learnt from Sujata from –
http://www. eternaloxymoron.wordpress.com, that there’s a movie adaptation on both the books collectively!
Have you read any book based on the same timeline and history that left an impact on you?
Looking forward to know more.
Will update this blog when I’ve read the second book of this duology 🙂