Sunday, September 16, 2007


Reading through pop culture website PopMatters' review of the Toronto Film Festival, I realized I had neglected one film-based-on-a-book in my last post: Persepolis. Artist/author Marjane Satrapi has adapted her two graphic novel memoirs into an animated film with co-director Vincent Paronnaud. Both directors were on hand at the screening in Toronto, where the film received a standing ovation.

The books and the film use simple but effective black and white drawings to tell the story of Satrapi's childhood in revolutionary Iran and later, her experience in the West after she leaves Iran for school in Vienna. The books drew favourable comparisons to Art Spiegelman's iconic Maus (Satrapi acknowledges it was an inspiration).

Persepolis I & II received much critical acclaim as well as popular success. Here at the Library they languish somewhat, often on the shelf instead of in someone's home. Perhaps their location in the Teens area scares off adult readers? Other graphic novel memoirs seem to have trouble finding readers however, including the widely acclaimed, award-winning memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.

A more traditional memoir (ie. text!), thematically similar to Persepolis, is Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. This book has been a favourite of local book clubs, full of good discussion possibilities. Nafisi was an English literature professor in Tehran but was fired once the Islamic Republic was declared. Her memoir tells of how Nafisi and a group of young women met in her home to read and discuss classic Western novels like Lolita, The Great Gatsby, and Pride and Prejudice.


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