Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

51maszxex8l-_sx317_bo1204203200_Information: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi was published in 2000 by Pantheon. ISBN: 037571457X

Plot Summary: In this graphic novel, Marjane tells her own story of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. She begins with her own childhood dreams of becoming a prophet. Marjane’s family are of distant Iranian Azeri ancestry and are descendants of Nasser al-Din Shah, so her dreams of being a prophet were inlined with her family history. But as the Islamic Revolution continued and the war between Iran and Iraq began, many homes and lives were destroyed. Marjane’s graphic novel follows her move to Austria and the difficult transition she had to make there.

Critical Evaluation: This strictly black and white graphic novel is rich with the history and political nature of Iran. Marjane gives the world a first hand account of how living during some of the most drastic changes in a country can shape someone’s childhood. Her graphic novel gives hope, but also an intimate understanding of Iran that cannot be gained anywhere else.

Reader’s Annotation: Persepolis is Marjane’s graphic novel of how she survived the turbulent Islamic Revolution in Iran. By describing her childhood, Marjane also reveals much about the rich history of Iran.

Author’s Information: Marjane Satrapi (Persian: مرجان ساتراپی) is an Iranian-born French contemporary graphic novelist, illustrator, animated film director, and children’s book author. Apart from her native tongue Persian, she speaks English, Swedish, German, French and Italian.

Satrapi grew up in Tehran in a family which was involved with communist and socialist movements in Iran prior to the Iranian Revolution. She attended the Lycée Français there and witnessed, as a child, the growing suppression of civil liberties and the everyday-life consequences of Iranian politics, including the fall of the Shah, the early regime of Ruhollah Khomeini, and the first years of the Iran-Iraq War. She experienced an Iraqi air raid and Scud missile attacks on Tehran. According to Persepolis, one Scud hit the house next to hers, killing her friend and entire family.

Satrapi’s family are of distant Iranian Azeri ancestry and are descendants of Nasser al-Din Shah, Shah of Persia from 1848 until 1896. Satrapi said that “But you have to know the kings of the Qajar dynasty, they had hundreds of wives. They made thousands of kids. If you multiply these kids by generation you have, I don’t know, 10-15,000 princes [and princesses]. There’s nothing extremely special about that.” She added that due to this detail, most Iranian families would be, in the words of Simon Hattenstone of The Guardian, “blue blooded.”

In 1983, at the age of 14 Satrapi was sent to Vienna, Austria by her parents in order to flee the Iranian regime. There she attended the Lycée Français de Vienne. According to her autobiographical graphic novel, Persepolis, she stayed in Vienna through her high school years, staying in friends’ homes, but spent three months living on the streets. After an almost deadly bout of pneumonia, she returned to Iran. She studied Visual Communication, eventually obtaining a Master’s Degree from Islamic Azad University in Tehran.

During this time, Satrapi went to numerous illegal parties hosted by her friends, where she met a man named Reza, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War. She married him at the age of 21, but divorced roughly three years later. Satrapi then moved to Strasbourg, France (Goodreads).

Genre: Nonfiction, Graphic Novel, Autobiography

Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas

Book Talk Ideas:

  • At one point, Marjane’s own street is bombed. Have you ever come home to a major crisis or disaster like she did? How did it change you? 
  • Even when she is very young, Marjane is outspoken at all times. How does this help her and hurt her in the new Iran? What decision does it lead her parents to make?

Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 9-12 and Ages 15-18

Challenge Issues: Violence, Language

Challenge Defense File:

Selection Policy

The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.

The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).  

Rationale

Satrapi, M. (2000). Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. New York, New York: Pantheon. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood reveals the personal impact of the Islamic Revolution and Iran-Iraq war. The graphic novel shows the real devastation war can have on children and how it forces them to grow up early. But it also shows where there is perseverance, there is a way to survive.

Other recommendations like this book include: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey by G.B. Tran, and Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned by Judd Winick.

Active Listening Skills

  • Remain calm
  • Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
  • Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree

Awards

  • Harvey Awards for Best US Edition of Foreign Material (2004)
  • ALA Alex Award (2004)

Reconsideration Form

Reviews

  • Reviews by Young Adults: N/A

Selection Tools:

Why I chose this book: I chose this book because of its profound and firsthand view on the history of Iran. So often views of other countries are clouded by false media stories and agendas.

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