2000 - 2007 Graphic Novel Memoirs

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi (Book and Film)

Persepolis is often quoted as being one of the best graphic novels in existence, so I have been wanting to read it for a while. It is an autobiography about what life was like for the author growing up in Iran and her experiences of being sent away to school in Austria.

I’d describe Persepolis as being an important book, rather than an enjoyable one. A lot of it felt like reading a very good history book, rather than a personal experience of life in Iran. I loved the details of her personal life and did find some sections amusing, but overall the mood of the book was quite oppressive. It was very informative and I admit that there was a lot I didn’t know before reading it, but I would have preferred to learn more about her life than the politics of the country.

It was also quite slow to read. There was a lot of detail in each picture, so the pace was much slower than the average graphic novel. The illustrations were quite simple, but they portrayed all that was needed to be put across effectively.

Whilst I was reading the book I saw that the film was being shown on television, so decided to record it and watch it once I’d finished. It was an interesting comparison as I think it is the closest a film has ever come to following a book – it was just like seeing the pictures on each page moving in front of you, which meant that this is another rare example of a film being slightly better than the book.

I think that this is a book everyone should read at some point and it will probably become a classic of our age.


Did you enjoy Persepolis?

What is your favourite graphic novel?

1930s Books in Translation

The Blind Owl – Sadegh Hedayat

Translated from the Persian by D.P. Costello

I was sorting through my bookshop stock when that beautiful picture of an owl caught my attention. I decided that I had to read it when I saw that it was also described as:

a deeply haunting and disturbing gem of world literature.

At only 108 pages it was a very quick read, but I’m not sure that I fully understood what was happening.

The author, Sadegh Hedayat, was born in Iran in 1903, but dedicated his life to the study of Western literature. His books are are now banned in Iran and are coming under increased attack from political Islamists in Europe.  He suffered from drug addiction and alcohol problems and committed suicide in 1951.

I think that an understanding of the author’s situation is key to realising the importance of this novella. It is a dark book, filled with thoughts on violence and death. It has a hallucinatory feel, so I found it difficult to grasp what was happening at all times. The book seemed to float from one scene to another, with no real plot.

The writing was poetic, and there were some beautiful descriptions hidden amongst the dark thoughts:

The sun, sucking with a thousand mouths, was drawing the sweat of my body. The desert plants looked, under the great, blazing sun, like so many patches of turmeric. The sun was like a feverish eye. It poured its burning rays from the depth of the sky over the silent, lifeless landscape. 

I also loved discovering some of the Persian traditions and it has inspired me to find out more about Iranian culture, but I’m afraid that the negatives of this book far outweighed the positives. It was dark, gruesome and impossible to follow. I felt that some of the scenes were there just to cause outrage and controversy, but perhaps they were just an indication of the authors depressive state. Either way this wasn’t an enjoyable read.

Recommended to people who like weird, depressing books with no plot!


Have you heard of The Blind Owl before?

Do you enjoy dark, weird books like this?

Can you recommend a more positive book about Iranian culture?