At this point, happily, every reviewer in the world seems to have discovered the frank, optimistic, and critical voice of Marjane Satrapi. Persepolis: A Story of a Childhood has become a known title in the book world and is being used, like Maus before it, to show that these graphic novels aren’t just funny books. Although not quite as cohesive as the first volume, this second memoir of Satrapi’s life is no less poignant, hilarious, and galvanizing. When we last saw her, Marjane was on her way to Vienna to discover a life beyond Iran’s ever more constraining society. In Vienna she discovers all manner of hijinks to get involved in, from boys to weed, but she can only blot out her family and her troubled homeland for so long. In many ways, the author’s young adulthood is not unlike any other adventuresome teen’s progress, and Satrapi presents her adolescence with the same wit and critical eye that she used to delve into her childhood. Here she is more lost, more unsure of herself as youthful certainty gets slowly eroded by reality. Despite the appeal of remaining oblivious in the relative safety of Europe, she eventually chooses to return to Iran. Her life there is full of everyday struggles to maintain her independence while trying to navigate her way toward love and marriage. Most of all, she trys to find a way to understand her countrymen’s juggling of history, national pride, religious piety and hypocrisies both large and small. In the end, she knows she must recall her own voice before she can criticize others thankfully for all of us reading her tale, she did just that. Her art is just as crisp and suits the topic so well that it’s hard to imagine anyone else melding word and image so organically.
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
by Marjane Satrapi