Thursday, January 28, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

This is my first time ever to read a graphic novel, and I think I've chosen a good one. One thing that's really intrigued me is how language is used so differently in a graphic novel than in a traditional one. For instance, while the text is often witty and occasionally profound, there is little or no symbolism or imagery. The symbols and images are not in Satrapi's words but in her pictures.

I'd highly recommend this graphic novel.

From Publishers Weekly
Satrapi's autobiography is a timely and timeless story of a young girl's life under the Islamic Revolution. Descended from the last Emperor of Iran, Satrapi is nine when fundamentalist rebels overthrow the Shah. While Satrapi's radical parents and their community initially welcome the ouster, they soon learn a new brand of totalitarianism is taking over. Satrapi's art is minimal and stark yet often charming and humorous as it depicts the madness around her. She idolizes those who were imprisoned by the Shah, fascinated by their tales of torture, and bonds with her Uncle Anoosh, only to see the new regime imprison and eventually kill him. Thanks to the Iran-Iraq war, neighbors' homes are bombed, playmates are killed and parties are forbidden. Satrapi's parents, who once lived in luxury despite their politics, struggle to educate their daughter. Her father briefly considers fleeing to America, only to realize the price would be too great. "I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?" he asks his wife. Iron Maiden, Nikes and Michael Jackson become precious symbols of freedom, and eventually Satrapi's rebellious streak puts her in danger, as even educated women are threatened with beatings for improper attire. Despite the grimness, Satrapi never lapses into sensationalism or sentimentality. Skillfully presenting a child's view of war and her own shifting ideals, she also shows quotidian life in Tehran and her family's pride and love for their country despite the tumultuous times. Powerfully understated, this work joins other memoirs-Spiegelman's Maus and Sacco's Safe Area Goradze-that use comics to make the unthinkable familiar.


Ian said...

It's really exciting to see the English lit. community embrace the graphic novel! I've only read one (Paul Auster's City of Glass set as a graphic novel) and that was a bit different because it was first a traditionally bound book. Despite the differences, I really see the potential for a growth in the field--though there's plenty of graphic novel study going on as we speak.

Persepolis has been somewhere on my to-read list and I figure I should bump it up quickly. Enjoy the rest of it!

Stephanie said...

I'm serious thinking of including this in my Women's Lit class I'm teaching next fall. I think it'll engender lots of discussion and broaden some students' horizons. I'm planning for my next non-work-related reading to be The Stone Diaries that you recommended to me. It may be a contender for that class, too.