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Book 10

  1. Grossmith, George & Weedon — The Diary of a Nobody (166 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — Blood Meridian (334 pages)
  3. Moore, Alan & Dave Gibbons — Watchmen (399 pages)
  4. Moore, Christopher — Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (507 pages)
  5. Murger, Henri — The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (381 pages)
  6. Walk with Me: A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2009 (98 pages)
  7. Douglas, Lloyd C. — The Robe (438 pages)
  8. Robinson, Marilynne — Gilead (281 pages)
  9. Jerome, Jerome K. — Three Men in a Boat (182 pages)
  10. Satrapi, Marjane — Persepolis (343 pages)

Page count: 3129.

Persepolis, my second graphic novel, dispels any doubts I may have had about the seriousness of this genre. This is a powerful, meaningful work.

Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's two-volume memoir of growing up Iranian during the Revolution. The first volume, Story of a Childhood, presents a brief history of Iran before recounting events during Satrapi's childhood and her reaction to them: the initial Revolution to depose the Shah, the Islamic Fundamentalist takeover of Iran, and the war with Iraq. In the second volume, Story of a Return, Satrapi recounts life-changing encounters in Vienna, where she was sent to be safe from the war, and then later back in Tehran, where she tried to make do in an oppressive system as a university student and young adult.

Both volumes are powerfully moving, but the first delivers a particularly harrowing punch, as we witness Satrapi's loss of friends and family, her questioning of faith, and so much more through the eyes of a child. Two things help make this account particularly effective. First, Satrapi does not hide her flaws and blemishes, does not make herself out to be something she isn't. Her honesty about herself makes me more receptive to believe the rest of her account. Second, she tells her story with an economy of words which allows her illustrations to speak volumes. And the simple black-and-white drawings are very effective.

I also watched the recent movie adaptation and was not as impressed. I think the graphic novel format works better in this case than film. This may be partly because many events had to be referred to only in passing or omitted altogether. Also, a small number of details seemed to be altered slightly, which I probably only noticed because I watched the film the same day I finished the book. Satrapi was involved in the filmmaking process, so when the film and novel conflict I don't which is the truer account.

I recommend the novel to anyone interested in learning more about Iranian life or, really, life in any repressive society. Despite its format, though, this is not a light read. It is stark and moving. I had to put it down a few times because it was just too much to digest all at once. Powerful stuff!

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