‘Persepolis’ is an autobiographical graphic novel of an Iranian woman who currently lives in France but grew up in Iran during the Islamic revolution. Her childhood and adolescence was a period of fear and uncertainty. Everybody was afraid of getting bombed. As a girl and a woman, she had to wear a veil. She had to follow Islam without questioning. She couldn’t wear make-up in public, she couldn’t run in public…in short, she lived in an oppressive time. Fortunately, she had a liberal family who encouraged her to discover herself, make mistakes and live the life that she wanted to live. At the age of 14 she was sent to Austria, all alone, because of the war. She lived a life of a liberated girl but felt out of place because of her Iranian identity. She was lost and decided to come back to her country. However, she felt like an outsider in her own country because of her ‘western’ values. And yet, this woman is a rebel who lived life on her own terms. Her revolutions are tiny, but they add up in the end.
I have never read a graphic novel before so this was a different experience altogether. Marjane is extremely talented…some of the illustrations are hilarious. It’s amazing how some people living in so much fear find their way and have a sense of humor. It’s overwhelming to see women fighting for things that so many people take for granted. For these women, applying lipstick or nail polish is political. Holding their boyfriend’s hand in public is revolutionary.
There are a lot of stories about rebellious women but what’s unique about the book is Satrapi’s family who give her so much and yet sought nothing in return. This book is also a great study about liberation and happiness. You realize that freedom is the first step but for happiness, you need a lot more. Satrapi sees two different cultures at a young age: a free country and an oppressive one. She gets a chance to do anything she wants in Austria but she is not happy. However, she is not happy in her dictatorial country either. She realizes that no matter where she lives, it is the small choices that she makes everyday that contributes to her happiness. And at the end of the day, your home is wherever you find people who support, believe, accept and nourish you.