As a graphic novel, Persepolis literally illustrates the history for the reader without leaving much to the imagination. Although that might seem like a disadvantage, I think that’s actually appropriate for the content of the novel. It helps to keep our “western” ideas and conceptualizations of Satrapi’s world separate and we can see her world exactly the way she sees it, even during her childhood. That made me appreciate this text even more, and how it is helping me understand the Islamic Revolution more clearly. As part of an assignment for another class, I am keeping up with the current bigger media stories in the Middle East. Understanding their history on a deeper level has definitely allowed me more incite to their current interests. (And in case any one is curious, the Arab League Summit is meeting in Baghdad this week; 2 big topics of discussion are the situation in Syria as well as Iran’s nuclear plans.)
Reading Farideh Goldin’s article called Iranian Women and Contemporary Memoirs made me think about how dangerous writing a memoir can be for an Iranian. Goldin says, “Writing of self is frightening; it has consequences. Life narratives cannot possibly explain the author’s life alone without involving other family members and friends.” And Satrapi speaks out so boldly of the oppression her friends and family suffered from and their acts of protest. Goldin’s article also talks about the reason why so many memoirs have been written in recent years and I thought it was interesting that she attributes that partially to the Bush administration creating a stir of western interest in Iran: “with the wealth of material on Iranian history and the fallout from the Iranian Revolution, and western curiosity about a country that was recently labeled as an axis of evil by the Bush administration, it is possible to have a personal story that is not totally private; it is possible to write a life narrative that is more political than confessional.” And, at least to me, Persepolis is not an exception to that idea; it tends to act more as an informative story than as a diary, even despite the fact that Satrapi seems to hold back nothing.