2000 - Persepolis
Persepolis is a unique part of my project for a couple of reasons. Frist, this book was on my to-read list for a very long time prior to this reading challenge. Just as The First Man in Rome was the longest book on my to-read list written by a woman, Persepolis was the shortest book on my to-read list written by a woman. Second, this is a work in translation; it was originally published in French. I believe it's the only translated piece included in my reading challenge. And most obviously, it is a graphic novel (aka comic book, although I feel like that term implies more of a superhero vibe). The graphic novel is a new-to-me genre, though it is just as varied and complex and rich as any other. It is a uniquely visual medium that can powerfully convey what words just sometimes can't.
Which is necessary when the theme of the story is surviving childhood in war-torn Iran in the 1980s. Persepolis is part one of a memoir series by Marjane Satrapi who both wrote and illustrated the books. This portion of the story focuses on Satrapi's childhood, during which time religious fundamentalists took over the Iranian government and repression and regressive policies ran rampant.
Though her situation seems dire, Satrapi is relentless in her rebelliousness against the new status-quo. Her parents are supportive of her political statements and are often as resistant as she is. Learning of the atrocities of this war as told from the perspective of a child is both chilling and remarkably effective.
Persepolis was published in 2000. This woman's childhood ran almost concurrently to mine, and yet it could not have been more different. I have never been forced to practice a religion. I have never been sold blatant propaganda in school (in fact if anything, my education taught me to be aware of and get involved in the governmental goings on). I have never feared for my life walking down the street in my neighborhood. I have never sought shelter from active bombings. This is why reading is essential to being an empathetic world citizen.
I highly recommend everyone try out the graphic novel format. Check out one of my recommendations below or ask your friendly local librarian to suggest a good introductory option. The combination of fabulous storytelling and creative illustration is a wonderful literary experience.
- Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
- Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
- Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins
Keep turning the page,