A perfect follow-up to Maus, Persepolis is a similarly personal account of a dark time in someone’s life, in this case Marjane Satrapi’s. Compared to Maus, however, hers is a much lighter story, as she was absent from her home country of Iran during the worst of the revolution. Her story is also significantly more relatable.
You may not personally know what it was like to grow up as an Iranian during such a tumultuous time, but underneath it all Persepolis touches on life experiences we’re all familiar with. Despite her situation, Marjane’s trajectory in life is like that of any other kid growing up. She goes through all the requisite phases, meets all the familiar roadblocks, etc. She also has a concern I, and I assume many others, often have, that her problems would sound trivial in comparison to what others have had to endure.
Put in just a few words, she’s like you and I. It goes to show that no environment, no matter how repressive, can squelch the human spirit. What it can do, though, is bring out some of the worst in us, which Satrapi doesn’t shy away from telling us about either. Thankfully, it’s balanced out with plenty of humor to lighten things up.
Whereas Spiegelman grew more and more distanced from himself and his situation, Maus becoming increasingly meta, Satrapi grows more and more attentive towards it, not wanting to retreat, to fall apart beneath the weight of circumstance. I’m not saying one is better than the other for that reason, just differentiating their approaches.
Both are well deserving of a read, and in the case of Persepolis a watch, if you want to see what it’s like for an author to give him or herself over to the reader completely.
Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.