Making Curriculum Pop

Marjane Satrapi was in elementary school when the Shah was ousted from power in Iran and a conservative Islamic regime took control. Because her family had communist and socialist leanings as well as a distant familial relationship to the deposed Shah, they had to navigate a perilous political landscape. During this time, Marjane struggles to find meaning in the vast changes, the many injustices, and the specter of martyrdom and war that hung over her country. She wrestles with religion, school, and the authorities who place restrictions on clothing, make-up, and popular culture. Being questioning and rebellious, Marjane has to deal with seemingly mundane situations that suddenly deteriorate into danger.

This volume contains the first two chapters of the books originally published in France. It is followed by a sequel where we follow what happens to Marjane as she becomes a young adult. This volume is very episodic and provides many scenes from a country in conflict where one family is struggling to get by. Incidentally, the title of the book comes from the Greek name for Parsa, an ancient capital of the Persian Empire.

Satrapi has become internationally famous and lauded for her graphic novel work. This article by Paul Gravett speaks to her life and work on this first volume of the series as well as its movie adaptation. This interview with Sean Axmaker also gets at her thoughts and intentions about making this graphic novel.

Persepolis has been almost universally accepted as a classic. Johanna Draper Carlson wrote that this "memoir is a must-read for a unique perspective on current events." Sarah Tan wrote that "Persepolis is a novel of the importance of being aware of ourselves and understanding the consequences of change." Offering a slightly contrary opinion, Christopher Skokna noted that Satrapi's storytelling chops could use some attention and he concluded that "for Satrapi to reach the front of the autobiographical comics library — and to deserve the attention this book is receiving — she must improve her skills and lengthen her perspective."

Some preview pages are available here from the book's publisher Pantheon.


This second volume of Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical tale focuses on her adolescence and young adulthood. After being sent to Vienna to study, she tries to find her place in the world. She feels like an outsider among the Europeans, but she meets a variety of people, including artists and students who engage her thinking. She also drinks and smokes and falls in love. Finally, Marjane misses Iran too much and returns to her homeland to see what has changed, to try to fit in, and also, it turns out, to get married. But can she truly go home after being out in the world?

Obviously, Persepolis 2 has a more adult bent than the first volume. Satrapi talks about her work and the differences between working on the Persepolis books in this interview. This long interview with Bart Beaty also explores both books in great depth.

This sequel has been adapted into an Academy Award nominated animated motion picture that spans both books. It has also won multiple prizes from the Angoulême International Comics Festival. As for reviews, it has been well received, though perhaps not as enthusiastically as the first book. Boris Kachka acknowledged that it is more difficult to positively portray childhood than adolescence and wrote that "the simplicity of Satrapi’s work may be what makes it universal." Luc Sante called the book "wildly charming." In a different light, Johanna Draper Carlson found this volume "disjointed, tawdry, and unfocused" compared to the first.

Persepolis 2 was published by Pantheon. A preview is available from

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thanks for all the links to interview etc...great for teachers!

That's my goal :)  Thanks for the kind words!



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