Sunday, July 6, 2008

Persepolis by Marjene Satrapi

It's not a short story, I know. I'm late to the game, I know that too. But I'm so glad I finally read it. Once I picked up this book, I couldn't put it down.

Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis is a graphic memoir about growing up during the Iranian Revolution. It's everything the critics have said: poignant, funny, sad etc. But for me, and a I'm sure a lot of other Iranians, it goes beyond that. Everything came back to me when I read this book: school, "brother," "sister," the lies, the filth of everyone with a beard and a chador, the HYPOCRISY! 

Satrapi's memoir begins in 1979, the year before I was born, and ends in 1994 a few years after I left Iran. Though she is 11 years older than me, I relate to all of her experiences, from Michael Jackson and "punk" to smashing grapes for home-made wine (that was my grandmother's job) to detesting the hejab and the excessive limitations placed on women. I realized, after a long time of forgetting, that this was a collective experience. Being here, in New York, without any Iranian friends who have actually lived in Iran, it's easy for me to forget that other people  hid in bomb shelters and taped their windows.  It's easy to forget that everyone had someone in jail or at war or both. 

It's good to remember all of that: the airport, the streets, the black-market, the parties and the fun we continued to have along with  the worry that the wrong person would hear us say the wrong thing. All of it. But it's hard, too. I think I dreamt about my dad, and Tehran  last night. I probably will continue to do so for some nights to come. 

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