As a Middle Eastern immigrant, an artist, and a political activist, it was very easy for me to connect with Marjane Satrapi. In fact, I think I would be hard pressed to find a character that I related to more. As I read the graphic novel, there were so many things that she discussed that I found myself recognizing from my own culture and seeing in myself and my own life.
Although I emigrated from Egypt at a very early age, my parents stayed involved in the Egyptian community, even to this day. For those unfamiliar with modern Egyptian culture, this blog is a great resource. My grandfather was a political activists, and was arrested and imprisoned in the mid 1900s for communist activity. Both my parents remain very current with the political proceedings of that country, who’s political regime is comparable to that of the Iran depicted in Persepolis. Growing up, politics was all we ever talked about, and even as a child I was very interested and invested in politics. I identified strongly with Marjane’s need for justice in the face of a corrupt political system.
Apart from the traditional aspects of this comic of age story which most people can identify with, I really connected with Marjane’s feelings of isolation, of being a foreigner among westerners, and then also among her own people. I grew up in a predominantly white town, and for years I felt the need to suppress my “non-Western-ness”. I never fully felt comfortable in this community, but neither did I feel comfortable in Egyptian communities I interacted with. There I felt like an outsider, to radical to be accepted. Over time I slowly learned how to feel comfortable with myself, but it was almost a relief to read about someone going through the same sort of thing.
In reading Persepolis, I connected with Marjane’s story, I empathized with her (even on things I probably shouldn’t have). I felt a kinship, not just with the things I’ve already mentioned, but even things like her self-destructive tendencies, her desire to be accepted but her inability to compromise herself completely, and even with her pasta fixation. Overall, I really felt that Marjane was a girl after my own heart!