I had a stint reading graphic novels in high school. It all started when I was eyeing the Persepolis books by Marjane Satrapi in my school library, planning on reading them as soon as I was on break, only to open them and be utterly dismayed that they were comic books. “Not comic books,” the librarian corrected me. “Graphic novels. They’re actually very good. You should still read them.”
In almost no time after beginning to read Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, I understood what the librarian meant. These were not comic books, but deep and well-written autobiographies with vast cultural, historical, and literary value. The author just happened to be an artist, and accompanied her story with illustrations. Along with the sequel, Persepolis: The Story of a Return, Iranian author Marjane Satrapi tells her story of growing up during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. She shares with her readers what she witnessed during the changes in her country as they fell under stricter Muslim laws, her departure to attend school in France, and eventually the unfolding events of her life, personally and politically, upon her return home to Iran. Persepolis I and II are some of my favorite books.
Embroideries is the illustrated depiction of a women-centered conversation between generations of women in Marjane’s family circle. The women hilariously cover every topic from cooking to sex. It is an entertaining read with many humorous anecdotes. It succeeds in showing a candid, frank and humorous side of Muslim Persian women that we Westerners rarely see. In such a way, Embroideries unites women everywhere in our humor, experiences, and attitudes toward men. We are – truly – all alike.
Chicken With Plums is the sad tale about a man in Marjane’s family who is said to have laid down and decided to die. His cold wife and (rather uncivilized… LOL) children dance about him as he reminisces on his life of disappointment and unrequited love, and eventually dies of a broken heart.