Thinking about The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Hello! It’s Thinking Thursday, and that means it’s time for a review 😀 But let me back track a little bit first: on Monday, I did a post on visual reading, and how it isn’t something I do. This was because I recently read The Complete Persepolis, and I wanted to explain why I reacted the way I did (at least in part). Now it’s time for my review of it, which will hopefully explain why I wanted to discuss visual reading first. Enjoy!

Title || The Complete Persepolis (GoodReads)
Author || Marjane Satrapi
Published || 2007 by Pantheon (Reprint combining the previous 4 volumes)
Form || Paperback
Genre || Memoir, Comic/Graphic Novel
Rating || 2/5
Yay || The culture
Nay || The format
Summary || Satrapi tells the story of growing up during the Islamic Revolution and its effects on her personal situation and identity.


As my previous post may suggest, I struggled a little bit with the format of this particular memoir. For me, a memoir is about sharing a part of yourself and thus forging a connection between the reader and the writer that is more intimate than what you would find in fiction or a biography (or even an autobiography, maybe). I found this connection lacking due to the medium—I had little to know emotional connection to the content, which severely limited my ability to enjoy this piece. I did experience occasional frustration, due to two things that I can identify.

First, I wasn’t able to follow the emotional or thematic thread of the story. I couldn’t figure out why she did the things she did, or why certain elements appeared and disappeared or otherwise changed in importance. (This might be somewhat representative of it previously being in four volumes.) It was a level of detachment that just didn’t work for me. I think that would have been easier for me if the story had been in writing–I think having the words to explain beyond mere dialogue, to process her thoughts, would have made things much easier for me personally. Another reader may have no trouble at all with this.

Second, although there was the occasional info dump explaining the situation—whether through her parents, the news, or others in her life—I found myself more often than not feeling like I didn’t know enough about the political situation at hand. I came into the book knowing a little bit about the culture and the religion, but my general knowledge of history and politics is spotty. I felt like I had to do research to appreciate the book, and that frustrated me a little bit because I wasn’t prepared for it.

However, I found what information I did get absolutely fascinating. The way she addressed and depicted the culture shock of these different places—especially in her return home—is something I personally could connect with because I’ve experienced it. That was, unfortunately, the extent of that connection though.

Overall, it was a quick read. I wasn’t engrossed, nor did I feel a need to put it down, really–but when I did, I had little to no urge to pick it up again either. Like The Moth Diaries (which I always mistype as Mother on the first try), it’s not that I dislike the piece. I’m just not particularly fond of it.

And here, that is entirely on me and my personal preferences. Another reader may very well enjoy the visual story. At least I wasn’t bored ^^

Recommend? Borrow
Recommended for? Fans of graphic novels, fans of contemporary/memoir, those interested in the Islamic Revolution, those who have experienced or wish to learn about different cultures (especially culture shock)

Thanks for reading!
Have you read The Complete Persepolis? What did you think?
If you haven’t, do you now want to?

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2 thoughts on “Thinking about The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

  1. I’ve watched the animated version of this in my Comparative Government class and I thought it’s really well done. I sometimes struggle with graphic novels too, so for really complicated ones I’d usually prefer anything animated instead. There are really brilliant graphic novels out there that you totally shouldn’t miss though! *cough* THE SANDMAN SERIES *cough*

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have the annotated Sandman on my shelf, actually. I really look forward to reading it–the art is really interesting and I think that will make up for my general trouble with graphic novels.

      I might check out the movie version of it this, but I don’t know how likely that is.


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