Persepolis: Personal journeys through Iran and Europe

Persepolis is the name of a book {now made into a film}, and penned by Marjane Satrapi. The book begins with Marjane as a fun-loving kid who along with her friends treats the veil imposed on them by the school authorities as a instrument of play.

Persepolis: Wearing a veil

Persepolis: Wearing a veil (Photo credit: Peter Forret)

Flipping the  pages, we learn that the school authorities are merely following the rules set by the regime. We see this  regime come to power by riding the wave of discontent which had overthrown the military dictator General Mohammed Reza Shah of Iran {the son of the previous dictator}, supported by the govts of western countries. The citizens fight against the dictator for their freedom, and he gives up power and escapes Iran. But thereafter the people find themselves trapped under the regime of religious extremists. The regime jails the airforce personnel and Saddam Hussein sees his chance and attacks Iran. Chemical weapons are used by Saddam and his Scuds destroy homes in Tehran, Iran’s capital, where Marjane lives. Meanwhile the Iranian govt imposes further restrictions on everyone, spies on people, and prosecute its critics. Finally, Marjane’s parents arrange for her to go to Europe for further studies allowing her to escape war and the increasingly-stifling restrictions.

It’s fascinating how Marjane undergoes several personal journeys during the course of the book, both  in Iran and abroad. I love the way her Iranian roots come to play when interacting with Europeans and how her European and other Western influences give her an unique perspective into the happenings in Iran. The incidents where Marjane speaks her mind openly even at the risk of being an outsider also bring important twists to the story. Also, the recounting of personal experiences helped give me a better understanding about how certain external factors like war and religious atmosphere affected people.

Rating: 10/10. In fact, it’s so good that I recommend that you stock the book at home, and gift it to schools, public libraries and friends, especially in the context of Persepolis being banned in several countries and being withdrawn in Chicago Public Schools.

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