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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. The New York Times hails Persepolis as “the latest and one of the most delectable examples of a booming postmodern genre: autobiography by comic book.” Why do you think this genre is so popular? Why did Satrapi chose this format in which to tell her story? What does the visual aspect add that a conventional memoir lacks? Have you read other graphic memoirs, such as Maus by Art Spiegelman or Joe Saccos Palestine? How is Persepolis different and/or similar to those? How does Persepolis compare to other comic books? Would you call this a comic book, or does it transcend this and other categories? Where would you place this book in a bookstore? With memoirs, comic books, current events?

2. Written as a memoir, is Persepolis more powerful than if Satrapi had fictionalized the story? Why or why not? Compare this book to other memoirs you have read. What are the benefits and drawbacks of memoirs?

3. In an Associated Press interview, Satrapi said, “The only thing I hope is that people will read my book and see that this abstract thing, this Axis of Evil, is made up of individuals with lives and hopes.” And in her introduction to Persepolis, she explains that she wrote this book to show that Iran is not only a country of “fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism.” How does Satrapi go about challenging this myth? How does Persepolis dispel or confirm your views on Iran? In what ways does reading this book deepen your understanding and knowledge of Iran, and the current situation in Iraq?

4. How is Persepolis organized and structured? What has Satrapi chosen to emphasize in her childhood? How is the passage of time presented? Describe Satrapis drawings. How do the drawings add to the narrative of the story?

5. Describe the writers voice. Is it appealing? Which aspects of Marjis character do you identify with or like the most, the least? Did your reaction to the little girl affect your reading experience?

6. How did the revolution exert power and influence over so many people, including many educated and middle class people like Satrapis parents? Why did so many people leave after the revolution? Why do you think Marjis parents send her off to Austria while they stay in Tehran? Why dont they leave/escape as well?

7. “Every situation has an opportunity for laughs.” (p. 97) Give some examples of how the ordinary citizens of Iran enjoyed life despite the oppressive regime. What made you laugh? How does Satrapi add comic relief? How are these scenes relevant to the story as a whole?

8. What kinds of captivity and freedom does the author explore in Persepolis? What stifles or prevents people from being completely free? How do they circumvent and defy the rules imposed on them and attempt to live ordinary lives despite revolution and war? Give some examples of their small acts of rebellion.

9. “In spite of everything, kids were trying to look hip, even under risk of arrest.” (p. 112) How did they do this? What do you think you would have done had you been a child in this environment? What acts of rebellion did you do as a teen? In way ways is Satrapi just a normal kid?

10. What does Satrapi say regarding disparity between the classes before and after the Iranian Revolution? Discuss some examples that Marji witnesses and contemplates.

11. At the core of the book is Marjis family. What is this family like? What is important to Marjis parents? What environment do they create for their daughter despite living under an oppressive regime and through a brutal, prolonged war? From where do they get their strength?

12. What is the role of women in the story? Compare and contrast the various women: Marji, her mother, her grandmother, her school teachers, the maid, the neighbors, the guardians of the revolution.

13. Discuss the role and importance of religion in Persepolis. How does religion define certain characters in the book, and affect the way they interact with each other? Is the author making a social commentary on religion, and in particular on fundamentalism? What do you think Satrapi is saying about religions effect on the individual and society?

14. In what ways is Persepolis both telling a story and commenting on the importance of stories in our lives? What does the book suggest about how stories shape and give meaning to our experience? Discuss some of the stories in Persepolis—Uncle Anooshs story, her grandfathers story, Niloufars story.

15. What is Satrapi suggesting about the relationship between past and present, and between national and personal history? What role does her family history, and the stories of her relatives, play in shaping Marji?

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

julieb43, March 7, 2008 (view all comments by julieb43)
Marjane Satrapi brilliantly conveys Iran's history through the eyes of a young girl growing up. It's not merely a history lesson though; it's a moving and humourous personal story as well, involving Marjane's intellectual Marxist family.

The graphics are simple but effective and convey not only the horrors of the Iranian revolution and war with Iraq, but the joyous moments spent with family and friends as well.

The recent animated film version did the graphic memoir justice--it was just as funny and touching.
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(5 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375422300
Author:
Satrapi, Marjane
Publisher:
Pantheon Books
Author:
Forney, Ellen
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Form - Cartoons & Comics
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Satrapi, Marjane
Subject:
Cartoons and comics
Subject:
History
Subject:
Bildungsromans
Subject:
Coming of age
Subject:
Biography-Women
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st American ed.
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Series Volume:
10194
Publication Date:
April 29, 2003
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
BandW illustrations t/o
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.30x6.30x.70 in. .87 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Women
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Alternative
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » General
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Nonfiction
History and Social Science » World History » Middle East

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$21.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780375422300 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A dazzlingly singular achievement....Striking a perfect balance between the fantasies and neighborhood conspiracies of childhood and the mounting lunacy of Khomeini's reign, she's like the Persian love child of Spiegelman and Lynda Barry." Salon
"Review" by , "A triumph....Like Maus, Persepolis is one of those comic books capable of seducing even those most allergic to the genre. The author's masterstroke is to allow us to experience history from within her family, with irony and tenderness."
"Review" by , "I cannot praise enough Marjane Satrapi's moving account of growing up as a spirited young girl in revolutionary and war-time Iran. Persepolis is disarming and often humorous but ultimately it is shattering."
"Review" by , "I thought [Persepolis] was a superb piece of work....Satrap has found a way of depicting human beings that is both simple and immediately comprehensible, AND is almost infinitely flexible. Anyone who's tried to draw a simplified version of a human face knows how immensely difficult it is not only to give the faces a range of expression, but also to maintain identities from one frame to the next. It's an enormous technical accomplishment."
"Review" by , "You've never seen anything like Persepolis — the intimacy of a memoir, the irresistability of a comic book, and the political depth of a the conflict between fundamentalism and democracy. Marjane Satrapi may have given us a new genre."
"Review" by , "I grew up reading the Mexican comics of Gabriel Vargas, graduated to the political teachings of Rius, fell under the spell of Linda Barry, Art Spiegelman, and now I am a fan of Marjane Satrapi. Her stories thrummed in my heart for days. Persepolis is part history book, part Scheherazade, astonishing as only true stories can be. I learned much about the history of Iran, but more importantly, it gave me hope for humanity in these unkind times."
"Review" by , "I'm not normally a comic book reader, and I'll admit I was skeptical. Within the first few pages, though, I felt the tiny hand of the narrator pulling me into her world. As she regaled me with tales of her extraordinary life, I found myself moved, fascinated, shocked and enthralled. The next time I looked up, I had finished the book. I looked around the room feeling bewildered. How, I wondered, did this wonderful little book manage to transport me so completely?"
"Review" by , "This child's eye view of survival during Iran's revolution and the Iraq war made me laugh and cry. Most importantly, it helped me to see recent upheavals in a new way. This comic strip should be required reading!"
"Review" by , "This witty, moving and illuminating book demonstrates graphically why the future of Iran lies with neither the clerics nor the American Empire."
"Review" by , "I found the work immensely moving with depths of nuance and wisdom that one might never expect to find in a comic book. It's a powerful, mysterious, enchanting story that manages to reflect a great swath of Iranian contemporary history within the sensitive, intimate tale of a young girl's coming-of-age. I didn?t want it to end!"
"Review" by , "A rare and chilling memoir that offers every reader a personal, honest portrait of Iran's recent political and cultural history. Ms. Satrapi's provocative, graphic narrative of life in Iran before and after the Islamic revolution is an extraordinary testament to the level of human suffering experienced by Iranians tossed from one political hypocrisy to another. Aside from the humanistic dimension, the beautifully minimalist Persepolis gives further evidence of Marjane Satrapi's sensitivity and superb skill as an artist."
"Review" by , "Readers who have always wanted to look beyond political headlines and CNN's cliches should plunge into this unique illustrated story. Let Marji be your trusted companion, follow her into the warmth of a Persian home and out along Tehran's turbulent streets during those heady days of revolution. Persepolis opens a rare door to understanding of events that still haunt America, while shining a bright light on the personal humanity and humor so much alive in Iranian families today."
"Review" by , "Blending the historical with the personal is not an easy task, to blend the individual with the universal is even more challenging. But Marjane Satrapi has succeeded brilliantly. This graphic novel is a reminder of the human spirit that fights oppression and death, it is a witness to something true and lasting which is more affective than hundreds of news broadcasts."
"Review" by , "A remarkable achievement!"
"Review" by , "Both enchanting and devastingly real, Persepolis captures the many complexities of modern Iran, filtered through compelling illustrations and a wise child's eye."
"Review" by , "Satrapi's super-naive style is powerful; it persuasively communicates confusion and horror through the eyes of a precocious preteen."
"Synopsis" by ,

Cartoonist Ellen Forney explores the relationship between andldquo;crazyandrdquo; and andldquo;creativeandrdquo; in this graphic memoir of her bipolar disorder, woven with stories of famous bipolar artists and writers.

and#160;

Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity.

Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia Oandrsquo;Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to andldquo;cureandrdquo; an otherwise brilliant mind.

Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forneyandrsquo;s memoir provides a visceral glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artistandrsquo;s work, as she shares her own story through bold black-and-white images and evocative prose.

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