When I first read Persepolis, a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, I was a junior in college, sitting through a required core class. The class was Modernity in Literature, and I was taking a particular section because a few of my friends were in it, and also because I had the professor before. She was a hard grader, and I wasn’t even sure that she liked me, but I appreciated her perspective on non-Western literature.
Persepolis was the first graphic novel I really ever read. I kind of had always looked down on graphic novels and comics and anime, not for any real reason besides my own superiority complex. But when I read Persepolis, my opinion changed.
Persepolis opened my eyes to so much. Taking place in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, Persepolis introduced me to a time and place in history that I, as a privileged white women, knew virtually nothing about, intersectional feminism, and the depth and creativity that goes into graphic novels. It is an autobiographical work telling the story of the author’s childhood in Iran during a time of unrest and violence. I remember reading it and reading more than I had to, just because I was that captivated for the story. I told every one of my feminist friends, “You have to read this.” and held on to my copy long after finishing the class.
I finally decided to reread it in quarantine, and I was happy to find that it was just as compelling as it had been when it was assigned reading. It is a difficult read, but an important one. I had no knowledge of this time in history, or really about Iran in general, beyond America’s involvement in the 21st century, before reading the book, and it opened my eyes to the horrors the Iranian people experienced.
There is a second half to the story, which I still haven’t gotten my hands on, but plan on buying it or borrowing it from the library soon.