This really is an extraordinary book. Marjane Satrapi creates a very intimate, special world, not just by creating an autobiographical story, but by creating a mini-universe of comic and cartoon images. As a novel, this would just be another novel about a refugee and wartime hardships. By creating a piece of visual art, the author has cemented her story in the popular consciousness. I hope I can find other books by other people who have experienced these kinds of trials. It is vaguely reminiscent of Khaled Hosseini‘s work, but only topically. What I really want, and what Satrapi accomplishes, is a peek into the life of an ordinary civilian during wartime, trying desperately to cling to heritage, pleasure, and dignity.
Here are my two favorite concepts from the book. First, the assertion that fundamentalist rule is a way of using fear as a weapon to control the masses: “They knew that if a woman leaves her house every morning thinking, ‘Is my veil long enough,’ then that crowds out other thoughts like ‘What happened to my civil liberties?'” Second, that we are not morally obligated to risk our lives to overthrow an oppressive government (though plenty did, and were executed). “Our revolution set us back fifty years. It will take generations to reclaim our freedom and heritage. But you only get to live one life. Go, leave this country and live it to the fullest.” Our first moral obligation is to be true to ourselves, and live our lives rightly, and to the fullest.