I have kind of decided, at this point, that Graphic-Novels-that-are-also-memoirs are my jam. I'm not sure what it is about them, but it could be the fact that you can finish them in a day and still feel like you've absorbed someone's entire life story (or, at least, the important bits) and, if you're really lucky, that you've learnt something about how people in different situations to you live AND you've learnt something about how those people actually aren't that different from you, at least not at their core. And that's something that's been true of Maus and of Fun Home (basically the other two graphic-novel-memoirs I've read) and it's also the case with Persepolis.*
So Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's story- one of being born into an Iran that was fairly liberal, and then suddenly, almost without warning, living in one that becomes extremely extremely oppressive, in religious terms and especially for women, when she's about 10. This is where the book begins, and from there, it's basically what that was like, her thoughts on it, and her eventual emigration from Iran. And THAT'S just part one! Part two is equally as interesting, as it documents Satrapi's time abroad, but also what it's like to come back to a place that you know is as oppressive as Iran is.
And it's pretty awesome. There's so much insight into social and religious issues alongside Satrapi's life story that it's clear that these are issues she's thought about deeply and has a lot to say about, and it's really a pleasure to read. I know I laughed out loud a few times, and, since I read it on my epic holiday to Didcot, I insisted that Frances keep it and read it right away (which she has. And I think her mum has too. And also this review is going to be faaaairly non-specific because she still has it.)
Here's an example of one of the issues that Satrapi covers, which I remember because it's also the kind of thing I think about a lot and I am really interested by. The thought is this: part of the oppression of women in Iran is making them wear the kind of clothing that covers up every single part of their body, hair and legs and, you know, all the parts. Whilst I'm totally open to the idea of this being a powerful act in a place where dressing like this is a woman's choice**, when it's the rule of an entire country for all women, I'm not so much down with it. The point that Satrapi makes is this- making women cover themselves up at all times is not only oppressive to women, it's oppressive to men too- the idea behind it is that it's for the women's own protection as men can't control themselves if they saw a woman in, I don't know, jeans or whatever and seriously, isn't that so insulting?
(Seriously, this is why every man who isn't a rapist should speak out against victim blaming and all sorts of other bad things that go on when rape is involved because OH MY GOD if you're saying 'she shouldn't have drunk so much' or 'she shouldn't have worn such provocative clothes' then the thing you're not saying is 'because men can't be expected to control themselves' and how insulting is it to be treated like a being with only primitive instincts? Like I say, this is something I've thought about a lot.)
Anyway! So that kind of thing made me really open up to this book and made me want to know more about Satrapi's life because, you know, this is a woman I can really see eye to eye with despite our wildly different backgrounds (like, seriously. Crazy different.) If there was one thing I would say about it, it's that whilst I was completely captivated by Satrapi's story (and not just because, ooh, pictures!) I was also aware that her's wasn't the typical experience of women in Iran, and hey, how about one of those stories, please? This isn't a criticism of Persepolis at all, more of a cry for more graphic novels, from a wider range of women and, you know, MOAR LADIES STORIES PLEASE.
Obviously you should definitely read this since it ranks up in the heights of Maus (which is one of my favourite books of any kind ever) and Fun Home, and because feminism and religious skepticism and this little gem?
You definitely want to read this. And HEY if you already have can we talk about feminism and religion and things in the comments please? Or, actually, can we just do that anyway? Of COURSE we can!
*Obviously. Otherwise why would I have brought it up?
**If going out wearing hardly any clothes is an act of freedom, then why can't going out covering everything up be?
YES! FINALLY our reading tastes are back on track again! Persepolis is awesome and I totally agree that graphic novel memoirs are an amazing thing. You should read Naming Monsters by Hannah Eaton. It's great and also a memoir. Do you want me to send you my copy because I totally can, and like, won't be bothered when you give it back :-)ReplyDelete
The whole victim blaming thing is totally a thing that more people should be making a point about. Like, also why is it a woman's issue if there is a man who can't control himself? That's the man's issue, surely? Obviously it would be the woman's problem because she's the one who has to deal with the consequences of the lack of control, but I feel like if people stopped ever allowing anybody to use the 'she was asking for it, I couldn't help myself' line of defence then everyone would realise that victim blaming is just RIDICULOUS and shouldn't be a thing. So yes, just say the word and I will send you more graphic novel memoiry awesome (and I won't even get annoyed if you don't like it, cos that's part of the fun :-p)
Wooooooooo! And YES I kind of sort of totally want you to send me your graphic novel memoir thing, I will take really good care of it!Delete
Victim blaming just pisses me off in all the ways. I mean, it obviously serves men in one way because they don't have to take responsibility for their actions, but at the same time, wouldn't you just be so so insulted if someone suggested that you were just this animal that couldn't control themselves? Because I'd be pissed off. Dudes, be more pissed off about this! Obviously I'M already pissed off enough for everyone, but still!
I so totally need to read this! I saw the film a while back, and they used several of her graphic stills in the movie, but as we all know, it's never the same thing.ReplyDelete
Indeed it is never the same, BUT the stills I've seen of the film look really really similar to the book so I'm going to tentatively say they might not be that different? But, you should definitely read this because it's so very awesome and I love it :)Delete
Loved this book. Loved the 2nd volume as well. FAB.ReplyDelete
Oh yeah, this copy has both parts in it (yesssssss!) and yeah, both parts were definitely equally as excellent.Delete
Really want to read this. I loved Fun Home, and I have Maus on my shelf (October readathon? Yes), and this one sounds so interesting, too.ReplyDelete
The issues around Burqas and that type of clothing are so tricky. It's so easy to default to our own cultural ideals when looking at other cultures; but we can't just say that, because it's different from what we choose, it's oppressive. Like you say, choosing to be covered is a powerful act. But, then, when it's not a choice, it's a different story. At that point, the thing you're talking about (clothing or whatever) isn't really the issue any more.
Maus is sooooooooo good. It's just genuinely the best. Literally. I have no extra words for it than that.Delete
Up until maybe a few years ago I would have been like 'burqas are evil and oppressive and it's always the women who have to cover themselves up like there's something wrong with being a woman' and so on, but then I read a few things and it's like... I still think the theory behind it is sexist (which is why, if I was a muslim woman I'd probably choose not to wear one IF I had that choice) BUT if you're making the choice to not show your body because it's your own property, then that's just as powerful an act as wearing, like, a miniskirt. And yeah, obviously that's not the case in Persepolis and women should NEVER be told what they can and can't wear, but then surely it should apply the other way round too? Exactly.
Feminism, fuck yeah!
You reminded me that I need to read this! And also lend it to my husband as he's really interested in Iran. Yay!ReplyDelete
Ooooooh, this will be perfect for him then! And for you. And for ALL PEOPLE! (It's really good.)Delete
I really want to give a graphic novel a try. Or another try. but The Watchmen was sorta "eh" for me and Walking Dead I didn't make it 1/2 way through before I realized I was just skimming. But then there are graphic novels like Maus and this that sound EXCELLENTReplyDelete
Ok, I'm about to say something really pretentious about graphic novel memoirs now, so be ready: I'm not especially fussed about graphic novels in general, but when it's a memoir, there really feels like there's something special about someone using this as a medium to tell their life story, and it's also really good having a visual medium so you can actually picture their lives. So whereas in fiction I WANT to picture the places by myself through descriptions and stuff, in non-fiction, I'm fine with that being shown to me and it's like I'm actually living it.Delete
JUST READ PERSEPOLIS OR MAUS OR SOMETHING ALREADY! (Have you seriously not read Maus?! This needs to happen, dude. It's amazing.)
The only graphic novel I've read is The Watchmen. I am fail.Delete
My problem when I tried reading The Walking Dead (and this happened with Watchmen as well but I just carried on) is that I find myself skimming the pictures. I sorta glance at it and move onto the next and then the next. If there are no words, I flit by it. I need to figure out how to slow down or I really get nothing out of the novel.
I seeeeeee. I think I probably do this to some extent too, but I think you just need to read them through once, and then start again and read them, like, properly? I don't know, I've read Maus about 20 times or something, and I still see new things in the pictures. It's that kind of medium.Delete
Graphic novel memoirs are my jam as well lately, and OMG were we reading this basically at the same time? Because I read it last Friday and it was really good! But I probably won't be doing a post about it since I already returned it to the library :-/ And my copy was just Persepolis 1 and I want to read Persepolis 2 now!ReplyDelete
Also, about the men being insulted by women covering themselves thing - I honestly think that about 75% of men don't care or aren't insulted by the idea that they can't control themselves. Because somewhere in the male brain primitive and uncontrollable = macho and sexy, which is STUPID and ridiculous, but ya knooooow... so are some men. No that's mean. So are people in general. But yeah, I think men buy into that macho bullshit, so when stuff creeps up that implies that they can't fight their sexual urges, they don't think anything of it OR don't bother speaking out about it because it would seem unmanly.
UGH. People are insane.
I actually read this like... a month ago now? I'm just that slow at writing reviews lately hahaha (also I didn't know how to review it because SO AWESOME!) And awwww- my copy had both parts in which I didn't actually realise when I bought it so I was SO EXCITED! The second part is also excellent, so.Delete
I am so seeing your argument here. So maybe we need to be telling dudes, hey, acting like you're this big primitive beast isn't really sexy (except in the right circumstances!) it's kind of gross. And then everyone will be a feminist and the world will be awesome the end.
This is such a great book, isn't it? It's funny and clever and insightful and you learn stuff from it. I can also recommend Joe Sacco, who does comic-style journalism.ReplyDelete