Saturday, April 15, 2006

Newt's Book Club

I have just put down Persepolis, a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. If you haven't read this and especially enjoy graphic novels, I highly recommend this one. I agree with the comparisons with Art Spiegelman's Maus, however I find that Persepolis has light-hearted and enchanting moments, for we see war through a little girl's eyes.

It's the hysterically funny and devastatingly human memoir of Satrapi's life in Iran as a girl. Especially now that Iran is currently in the press, possibly targeted by the Bush admin, it was a good thing for me to read about the lives of ordinary Iranians during the reign of the Shah. The fear expressed in this memoir is palpable; I had not felt this way since learning about the Mothers Of The Disappeared (horrific Buenos Aires circa '70s). However, the girl in Persepolis is so full of imagination and chutzpah that you cannot help but forget about the war with her when she is playing with her friends... and you cannot help smiling at her irrepressible idealism.

Personally, it made me nostalgic for my own childhood, growing up thinking that racial discrimination doesn't exist until reality kicks in later on. (In Persepolis, Marjane and her friends were educated in more 'liberal' secular schools before the mullahs took over). Also, having to bear with totally absurd government interventions as a result of narrow interpretations of Islam.

The sequel - Persepolis 2 - is out in stores now.

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In the near future I would like to pick up Zadie Smith's third offering, On Beauty. It's shortlisted for the Booker, I think. Wait, who won this year's Booker? Anyway, she is the author of the terribly funny and ambitious White Teeth. Any of you want to read On Beauty with me, so we can discuss it from time to time?

3 comments:

catinthebag said...

1. current Booker: John Banville - By The Sea. It's off the top of my head, so check that.

2. also the author of the terribly plastic and unfunny 1st 16 pages of The Autograph Man. I say that because I didn't get past page 16.

Still, I do like White Teeth - enough to recommend it, which by my index means 'tremendously or thereabouts'.

gnute said...

Oh that's right. Banville. He's here in town for some lit fest. So is Hari Kunzru and Joe Sacco, I think.

I didn't like Autograph Man either, and I read the whole thing. Want me to tell you how it ends? ;) In fact, it was so forgettable that I didn't mention it because I had forgotten the title. On Beauty sounds promising.

catinthebag said...

No don't tell me! I have to get down to reading it to the end sometime. I need to learn how to finish books I don't like because 1. they might get better midway 2. or I can then openly criticise the whole damn thing. :D

So I'll read it.... err... sometime. Aw man I have no idea who Hari Kunzru and Joe Sacco is. I think I'm a sort of cultural hermit, because I am quite out of touch with contemporary authors and books, television (don't watch), radio (don't listen), entertainment and nightlife (erm), news (don't read, except the economist, and rarely), etc.

So Lyds, you're my only hope! Quick! Give me the transformative serum!