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Book Review: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis (I & II) is a non-fiction comical book based on the author’s life spent in Iran and in some European countries. According to the time spells, the book has been segmented into two parts. First part is called ‘The Story of Childhood’, and the second one’ The Story of a Return’. Both the segments are interlinked, and to understand the second one, you should have gone through the first part – that is imperative.

The time period of the book starts from 1970s to 2000. Most of the events are from Iran. Marjane Satrapi is a Persian living a better off life with family in Iran. Well, in 1980s things begin to change as the country gets into the grip of Islamic Revolution. It means thing will be done or decided within the conformity of religion. Shah regime is brutal. Once a free Iran now imposes cultural and traditions to mainly save the country from the Western influence. Earlier people there were free to listen to music, drink wine and beer, and could party, but since the arrival of Shah regime, people cannot do all these things. This regime underpins the communism and brings Islamic law for the country. Other people, mainly Muslim population finds it easy to fit in their lives, but for those who are non-Muslims and literate find it a blow on their freedom. People falling off the line are being checked and executed by the Guardians of the Revolution. Though she was caught by them many times, but every time she either came up with plausible excuses or bribed them.    

As the events turn from bad to worse, the girl Marjane turns rebellious. In school, she hits the principal. Her family unable to cope up with her rebellious steaks sends her to Venice for education. There she sees other dark aspects of life, it too was complicated, and it mentally kept disturbing her.

The book also discusses about the Gulf war that took place between Iraq and Iran. The war was useless, since most of the population of Iran was illiterate; government used religious methods to get them enrolled in the army. Youth joined and died, up to one million. The futility of the war was another jolt to Marjane’s mental abilities and family. When the jet fighters bombed the streets, Marjane sees the mutilated body parts of her friend who was living next to her home.     

Even when she returns home from Europe, things did not change. Her parents then say that Iran is not a country for you. The book chronicles the events as she grows from teenager to adolescent. The atrocities of the war have been presented in a very simple and lucid way through this comical book, if not in a comic style then otherwise it would have been a different story to tell and grasp. How simple and carefree lives of people are torn apart by the imposing of fundamentalism and wars. The book gains international sympathy from the readers, the fate of war-related books is that they are warmly accepted by the readers and their stories stick to them for longer time.


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