Satrapi, Marjane 1969–
Satrapi, Marjane 1969–
PERSONAL: Born 1969, in Rasht, Iran; immigrated to France, 1994. Education: Attended Lycée Français (Tehran, Iran); studied illustration in Strasbourg, France.
ADDRESSES: Home—Paris, France. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Writer and illustrator. Creator of comic-book Persepolis.
AWARDS, HONORS: Alex Award, and Booklist Top Ten Graphic Novels designation, both 2004, both for Persepolis.
Persepolis (comic-book collection), Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Author of children's books.
SIDELIGHTS: Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian-born writer and illustrator whose comic-book series Persepolis is a memoir of growing up during the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. The Persepolis series was first published in France, beginning in 2000; it has subsequently been translated into a number of languages and has also been collected into two book-length volumes in English translation.
"What does it mean when a comic book does a better job conveying the true predicament of Iran than the leaders of the free world and the best efforts of its free press?" wrote Amanda Ripley in Time International. "Perhaps it means that Marjane Satrapi … is not distracted by the contradictions that riddle Iran." Ripley commented that Satrapi "presents the memories of her childhood—the repressive morality police marching the streets, the F-14 jets streaking past the window panes, and the parties, intellectual debates, and love stories carried on behind closed doors. Most importantly, she carefully records all the tiny ways that average people find to defy their oppressors."
Middle East contributor Chris Kutschera noted that Satrapi "is not an ordinary young woman, she is a full-fledged princess. And not only a princess, but what some people might call a 'Red princess'; born into a progressive family, she was reading cartoons about Marxism when other children were reading fairy tales. Her maternal grandfather was the son of Nasreddine Shah, the last Qadjar emperor of Iran."
Satrapi's family supported the removal of the Shah in 1979, but Iran under the ayatollahs and religious fundamentalism was even more oppressive. School children were separated by gender, girls were required to again wear veils, the legal age at which girls could marry was lowered to nine, and when the Iran-Iraq war began, they were forced to mourn the dead twice a day. Satrapi opposed the new restrictions and was expelled for hitting a principal who told her she could not wear jewelry. Her family feared for her rebellious daughter and sent her to Vienna at the age of fourteen. This is the point at which the book ends.
In the early days under the mullahs, upper-class Tehran teens congregated at a burger joint named Kansas, where they displayed their Western ways and risked arrest for doing so. Reason reviewer Charles Paul Freund noted that, because of Satrapi, "Kansas and its burgers have achieved a certain degree of world fame now, along with other small-scale, daily-life efforts by Tehran's teens to squirm beyond the control of the regime's vice police…. Satrapi raises the question of why the repressive regime let a place like Kansas remain open. Was it to give some kids a place to let off steam? She thinks not. 'They probably hadn't the slightest idea what "Kansas" was,' she writes."
In the various strips that comprise the volume, Satrapi recalls her encounters with authorities over her wearing of Nike shoes, denim, and a Michael Jackson button. She includes her early experiences with love and her love of punk bands. She also clearly depicts the torture and assassination of her beloved uncle, Anoosh. Her mother is shown flushing wine down the toilet while her father engages an official who is intent on searching their home. Hers was one of the families that did not follow the no-alcohol rule. A friend's father is beaten when it is discovered that he possesses a deck of cards, chess set, and videocassettes in his possession. To represent the moment when Satrapi's neighborhood is bombed and her Jewish neighbors killed, she includes a completely black panel upon which she overlays the words, "No scream in the world could have relieved my suffering and anger."
Karin L. Kross reviewed the book for Bookslut online, writing that "the artwork is deceptively simple, much like Art Spiegelman's Maus. Satrapi wrings a lot of subtlety out of simple black-and-white lines and shadows, and there are wonderful moments of nuance and metaphor, as when she renders a three-week trip to Spain and Italy in a single page, with herself and her parents flying on a magic carpet over the Leaning Tower of Pisa."
Colorlines contributor Azadeh Ensha wrote that Persepolis "offers more than just a historical recount of past events; it adds a human face to those times. Satrapi has been quoted as saying that one of her goals in writing the book was to debunk some of the misconceptions associated with present-day Iran and its label as 'an axis of evil.' In just 153 pages, Satrapi certainly does that and more."
Satrapi's preface reads, "I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists. I didn't want those Iranians who lost their lives … to be forgotten." Debbie Notkin wrote in Women's Review of Books that, "in the end, however, this is only one of many levels on which the reader experiences this story. Whether the preconceptions you bring to this book are about Iran, teenage girls, fundamentalist regimes, graphic novels, or all of the above, Satrapi's unswerving commitment to the complex truth over the comfortable platitude will shake your expectations and eventually satisfy you in a new way."
Satrapi lives in Paris, France. The English-language version of the sequel to Persepolis was published in 2004.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Satrapi, Marjane, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Satrapi, Marjane, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Book, January-February, 2003, Shanti Menon, review of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, p. 51.
Booklist, May 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of Persepolis, p. 1564; January 1, 2004, review of Persepolis, p. 778; April 1, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, "The Alex Awards, 2004," p. 1360.
Colorlines, fall, 2003, Azadeh Ensha, review of Persepolis, p. 41.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Steve Raiteri, review of Persepolis, p. 99.
Middle East, April, 2002, Chris Kutschera, review of Persepolis, p. 49.
Nation, June 16, 2003, Gloria Emerson, review of Persepolis, p. 11.
Publishers Weekly, July 14, 2003, review of Persepolis, p. 58.
Reason, October, 2003, Charles Paul Freund, review of Persepolis, p. 64.
School Library Journal, August, 2003, Susan H. Woodcock, review of Persepolis, p. 190.
Time International, June 2, 2003, Amanda Ripley, review of Persepolis, p. 58; August 18, 2003, Aryn Baker, review of Persepolis, p. 112.
Women's Review of Books, June, 2003, Debbie Notkin, review of Persepolis, p. 8.
Bookslut, http://www.bookslut.com/ (August 7, 2003), Karin L. Kross, review of Persepolis.