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A formal luncheon party is just coming to an end. After the man of the house has complimented his wife on the food, he and all the other men go off to take naps. Young Marjane is sent off to prepare the samovar, mrajane her mother, her aunt, her grandmother and their friends do the washing-up.

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Only when the women have retired to the sitting room to enjoy their teas are they ready for the most important business of the day: It concerns a young woman named Nahid, who has gone off to say goodbye to her secret marjaane a few weeks before her arranged marriage and, without quite intending to do so, has lost her virginity. How to conceal her shame?

Marjane’s grandmother advises taking a razorblade into the marriage bed. But not all goes to plan. After the laughter has died down, one woman remarks that at least Nahid had “touched a testicle” once in her life: She goes on to explain.


But at no point does Marjane Satrapi feel compelled to spell out why she chose to turn this graphic gossipfest into a graphic novella – or how she wants us to respond to it. It speaks for itself and, to a large degree, to itself, and therein lies its subversive charm.

But it is at the same time a daring and brilliantly calculated illumination of a secret space. The graphic novel is a hybrid form that is yet to be harnessed by a clear brand image.

It is haunted by the ghosts of superheroes and generally assumed to be easy reading for sluggish children. Satrapi is one of a handful of writer-artists Art Spiegelman and Joe Sacco being the most famous others who have exploited this misapprehension to go where no marketing department has dared to tread. They catch their readers by surprise, sagrapi, marrying words and images in odd and alluring ways to draw us into huge and hugely controversial terrain, and – before they have even begun to fill in the background – they make us feel as if we’re there, in the thick of it.

It is impossible to read Satrapi’s two earlier graphic mwrjane Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Marjjane 2: The Story of a Return without identifying with the large-eyed, blank-faced heroine.

That there is no need to have prior knowledge of the events she witnesses at first hand – the fall of the shah, the rise of the ayatollahs, and the Iran-Iraq war – was brought home to me when my and year-old daughters picked up these books in bfoderies curiosity only to shut themselves up in their rooms until they had devoured every page.


This may partly be down to the fact that though Satrapi has herself written several books for children Persepolis is technically and therefore thrillingly for adults.

Marjane Satrapi

There has been no effort to tone down the shocks and horrors raining down on Satrapi’s world: Though this is a story that never broderiess still, there are many erudite asides about God, fundamentalism, communism, anarchism, imperialism, and the 2, years of tyranny marjaje submission that is Iran’s history.

But because we see all this through Marjane’s unaccepting eyes, the books speak to children even more powerfully than they do to adults, and whatever makes no sense becomes a mystery.

The first Persepolis had a large agenda clearly stated in the preface: I know that this image is far from the truth. I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists. I also don’t want those Iranians who lost their lives in prisons. Comics and graphic novels Marjane Satrapi reviews.