Monday 10 September 2012


Marjane Satrapi, 2000-2003
[Mattias Ripper and Blake Ferris, 2003. Anjali Singh, 2004]
(August 2012)

I really don’t set out to create ‘themes’ in my reading habits. I buy a ton of books every so often according to what I think looks worthwhile, and when I finish one just grab whatever it feels like I’m in the mood for next. Somehow that seems to create little runs (like my recent New York Season), and sometimes stuff emerges over longer periods.

So let’s compare and contrast. This is another autobiographical comic set in an oppressive regime told with a degree of (faux) naïveté. This is another comic set in the Middle East about a girl growing into womanhood under the influence of hard-line Islam.

This is better than both Pyongyang and Habibi though, by a long shot. The simplistic style of the first section is totally justified as it’s a childhood memoir; more importantly Satrapi doesn’t use it as an excuse to gloss over the failings or complicity of herself and her family. And she’s certainly not guilty of Orientalism and waving away the awkward conclusions implied by the tales she tells.

I didn’t intend to play these books off as companion pieces when I bought them, but the links and contrasts are so strong it’s unavoidable. There’s an undergraduate module somewhere here, for sure, but if any of you are swayed enough by what I write here to actually buy something on my recommendation (really?) then Persepolis is the one to go for. Funny, sad, humane, and terrifying all in one. Can’t say fairer than that.


  1. You should be getting money for any remotely positive reviews.

    I'm hoping for some sexy baking shots now that the cooler weather is approaching ;)

    1. I'm not that harsh really, am I? Firm but fair and all that.

      And besides, I should be getting money simply for being me, given I'm so fucking awesome. Adding value to people's lives merely by existing, that's me ;)

      As for the baking, we'll see how those real world commitments stack up. I've a couple of comedy failures I could post (even worse than some of the others), but that might rather puncture the 'fucking awesome' vibe I'm trying to maintain here...

    2. Never mind 'graphic novels', 'Persepolis' is what all literature should be: honest.

    3. Yep. No argument from me on that score.