Graphic Novel Memoirs–A Fresh Approach to What Can Turn into a Dull Subject

I cannot even begin to describe how brilliant I think it is that Satrapi chose to present her memoirs in this format. Books are so common, but graphic novels, at least autobiographical graphic novels, are rare (that I have seen). I’m not even sure where to begin with this graphic novel. Surprised and shocked would be two very accurate adjectives which could be used to describe how I reacted while I was reading, and also when I found out Persepolis is a memoir. So I suppose I shall begin with the brilliance in which Satrapi uses a pre-adolescent/adolescent girl–herself–to provide readers with a new lens to view the war through. It is not often that a writer is willing to do something such as that because it can be quite risky. Satrapi risked her credibility when she decided to make her memoir into a graphic novel; she also risked losing an audience because not everyone is a fan of graphic novels. Admittedly, this is my very first graphic novel so I don’t have any basis to compare, but I think Satrapi does an excellent job reaching out to all different kinds of audiences in this book.

There are so many panels I wish I could talk about because there are endless moving sections of this book. However, because I am spatially limited, I really want to focus on one particularly moving section which is found under the heading of “The F-14s.” While Marji is in school the class is given an assignment to write about the war. Marji, being the know-it-all character that she is automatically exclaims she knows everything about the war and writes “Four pages on the historical context entitled ‘The Arab Conquest and our War.'” (Satrapi 86) Because she is still relatively young and in the late stages of childhood egocentrism, Marji is extremely proud of her knowledge. This is all well and good but I was truly moved to tears whenever Pardisse read her simple yet sweet letter to her father, “It was a letter to her father in which she promised to take care of her mother and little brother…’rest in peace, dad.'” (Satrapi 86) This little girl managed to move not only the class and teacher to tears, but the reader as well. That is the sign of good writing for sure.

One of the awesome things about Persepolis is that it is not just a graphic novel. Below is in interview with Satrapi about the film version of Persepolis (I definitely want to see this!).

All in all, Satrapi provides us with a fresh and interesting twist on the war in Iran by allowing us to see it through the eyes of a child.


Work Cited

Persepolis. Digital image. Dance with Shadows. 28 June 2007. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <;.

Persepolis Exclusive: Marjane Satrapi. Perf. Marjane Satrapi. Youtube, 19 Sept. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.
Satrapi, Marjane, and Marjane Satrapi. The Complete Persepolis. New York: Pantheon, 2007. Print.





One thought on “Graphic Novel Memoirs–A Fresh Approach to What Can Turn into a Dull Subject

  1. I totally agree. I feel like the graphic novel format was more inviting to readers (though, I could be wrong about that because I really only have my own basis to judge that), as well as the fact that it was autobiographical and she was still young during the whole first half. She explains things so simply and well, and, I mean, at the end of the day, what matters most is how the people are affected. Not the war plans, not how much money is in the politicians’ pockets, but how the average citizen is fairing in this mess of life and warfare. I love this novel so much, and I have learned so much more than I had expected!

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