As some of you know I traveled to Iran in early January for a scientific meeting in Isfahan, a city of around 2 million about five hours' drive south of Tehran. I have not posted about my trip save for a brief description about the meeting on 10 -11 January over at my WaterWired blog.
This post deals with the 'graphic memoir' Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, written by Marjane (Marji) Satrapi, an Iranian born in 1969 who now lives in Paris. I read the book after I returned from my trip. It was a revelation.
In the book she recounts her childhood from just before the 1979 Islamic Revolution till about 1984. At that time, during the Iran-Iraq War, her parents sent her to high school in Vienna.
The book is absolutely delightful. Some would call this a children's book or a comic book, and that's fine with me. Satrapi was a terribly precocious, bright, and observant child and her comments on life in Iran during the turmoil are remarkable and insightful. She's not a fan of the Islamic state, and that comes through without polemics - she just describes what happens (usually stupid things) and the reader can draw his or her own conclusions. In case you're wondering, the Shah - Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi - doesn't come off as a great guy. Yeah, he started out doing some good things - women's suffrage, among others - but he became a despot. Still, he was the 'USA's despot' so he was okay.
The illustrations are simple and add much to the story.
The book was also made into a movie.
I also just discovered that there is a Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, another graphic memoir that deals with Satrapi's life in Vienna and her return to Iran. It's already on my bookshelf.
"The real war is not between the West and the East. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people." - Marjane Satrapi