Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return

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


  1. Persepolis one and two were outstanding books because of the opposite views of Western society that are posed by the author. Marjane Satrapi, as a young child, felt a strong sense of nationalism and urged her parents to engage themselves in politics not only politically, but physically as well. As she grew older, however, Marjane drifted away from her close bonds to the ideas of Iranian freedom and slowly took on the vague image of a Westerner.

  2. I hear what you're saying and I also think that her parents had a strong hand in raising her in a context where it was not only ok but even expected that she be politically vocal and active. They seemed more so at the beginning of the story, though it seems that certain realities set in that curtailed their overt activism.
    I agree that the ending of the book is problematic and muddled in terms of identity, and I like the idea of her becoming a vague westerner as well as her being severely conflicted about Iranian identity as well. I'd say by the end she has issues with the classical as well as the contemporary national identity.