I just realized that I have yet to talk about ANY of the books I’ve read from the Middle East!
/crying I’m so sorry Middle East, I love your books just as much as the rest of the world, I swear!
I’ll begin with one of my all-time favorite books period, The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
Marjane, if you’re reading this, please know that your book came into my life at a time when I was searching for answers to a lot of different things. And while Persepolis didn’t exactly answer my questions, I felt like it was at least asking some of the same questions I was, which was comforting in and of itself. Thank you.
The Complete Persepolis is a graphic novel, and is the biography of the author, who grew up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Although Satrapi was a young child at the time of the initial revolution, as she grew older and began to rebel against some of the restrictions in Iran – such as women not being allowed to wear makeup in public – her parents began to fear for her safety, and eventually sent her to a boarding school in Austria. Eventually, Satrapi returns to Iran, but finds that she still cannot cope with the restrictions placed on her. Eventually, she leaves Iran again, this time for good.
This was originally two books: Persepolis book 1 and Persepolis book 2. The first book deals with Satrapi’s life in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution, until her parents send her to Austria. The second book deals with her life in Austria, and her eventual return to Iran.
This is often a tough book to read, guys. Satrapi unflinchingly looks at some of the many gruesome, horrifying, and sometimes despairing details that she experienced growing up in Iran at this time. She talks about how a popular movie theater was set on fire, , purposely trapping 400 people inside. She talks about how her uncle was arrested, executed, and buried in a mass grave. And she talks about the obvious fear that her parents had for her safety, when she first started to rebel against her social restrictions as a teenager.
But there are a lot of good moments, too. I personally connected with Satrapi a LOT when she talked about her bond with her grandmother. It’s obvious that the two were very close. And I love her feisty attitude about everything! It makes me think we could be good friends, if we ever met 🙂
FYI, if you know literally nothing about Iran or the Islamic Revolution, this book is an EXCELLENT place to start. I knew nothing about Iran when I picked up this book, but Satrapi explains everything nice and slow, so you don’t feel like you’re being left behind by your lack of knowledge. And if you were like me, and you grew up with people telling you that all Muslims were bad guys, this is also a very good book to start unlearning all that horrible shit. All Muslims are definitely NOT bad guys – that’s just ridiculous, and fear-mongering.
But don’t take my word for it – read this book instead! 🙂