Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and the Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and the Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Autobiography, Nonfiction, Graphic Novel
Imprint: Vintage, UK
ISBN: 978-0-099-52399-4

Marjane Satrapi is also the author of Embroideries and Chicken with Plums. I have not read any of her other novels, therefore I won’t be comparing Persepolis with other works of the author.

Persepolis is the autobiographical graphic novel that tells us the story of Marjane Satrapi’s life in and out of Iran. It is one of those rare books that swallow the reader into its world as soon as they read the first line. The Satrapis are Iranians with a modern outlook towards life. They suffocate during the revolution and suffer immensely when the war begins in Iran. Though they belong to the family of the last emperor of Iran, who was ousted by rebels with the help of English, they live like normal public. Satrapis have seen it all in Iran. The young one of the family is Marjane Satrapi, the author of this book. As a child, she is brought up by liberal parents and grandmother, and tried to suppress by fundamental Islamist. War is etched in her life. Relatives, friends and neighbours disappear in weird circumstances. Those who survive, they leave the country as soon as possible. Those who can’t, they send their children abroad. The same happens with Satrapis too. Marjane’s parents send their only child to Austria because they don’t want her to grown up in regressive environment after living in a progressive environment since birth. A teenage Marjane finds it difficult to adjust in Austria where people treat foreigners, especially refugees, badly. The Western culture daunts her, but she manages to survive. Only after a bad breakup with a cheating boyfriend, Marjane returns to Iran after four years. Iran has worsened further. Marjane readjusts to Iran. Her parents have aged and so has her grandmother. Her friends have changed beyond recognition. Leftover relatives give her free unwanted advice. How does she cope with the changes in her country during her childhood and teenage? In what way does the country affect her life? What does she do in Austria? What does she do after coming back to Iran? Read Persepolis to know.

This book has two parts because it is a combination of book one that is about childhood and book that is about teenage and early adulthood. Though there are no quote-worthy lines, each line by every character teaches you something about life irrespective of whether you are in Iran or not. All the illustrations in the book are in black and white, pretty much as in life. It is a hard-hitting fact that you realise while reading this book that not everybody has all the privileges, and this is conveyed through simple narration and illustrations. There is no negative point of this book. You can’t find one even if you try to.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is for everyone irrespective of your favourite genre. If you are a parent who wants to teach your child about life or just want to keep them grounded, or keep yourself grounded, then this humble book is especially for you. Stay humble.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Nonfiction, Humour, Autobiography
Imprint: Ebury Press
ISBN: 978-0-09-195717-9

Mindy Kaling, the comedian and screen writer best known for the shows The Office and The Mindy Project, is the author of this book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

In this book, the author talks about her non-athletic, book nerdish childhood, her family and about being a Hindu, how she made friends, moving to New York, staying with best friends in a house, trying to find a show biz job, the crazy drama called Matt & Ben done along with her best friend Brenda, how The Office changed her life, concepts that she doesn’t understand and she loves, the way she looks and about how her funeral needs to be. There are few segments like Somewhere in Hollywood Someone Is Pitching This Movie and Revenge Fantasies While Jogging which are not that great. But there are also few segments that are exceptional like Men and Boys, and Married People Need to Step It Up, and everyone should read them. I give her points for writing as it is and without hesitating about anything, even about her lack of knowledge about certain things. An uninhibited account of her “concerns” in her world.

This book is totally hilarious and completely relatable. One-time read that won’t disappoint you.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Review by Shridhara K T

Finally I have finished reading; it was a long read! I am talking autobiography of a great leader world has seen so far – ‘LONG WALK TO FREEDOM’ by Nelson Mandela and the role of ‘freedom’ throughout his life!

The book has a fascinating childhood story of a South African child, youthful life of a law student, heart touching story of an oppressed man, patriotic story of a freedom fighter, a sad but thrilling story of a prisoner, a leader who succeeded in his goal and a perfect love story which shows how important trust and sacrifices are in life.

As I was going through this masterpiece, I started seeing Mandela as the mixture of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Subash Chandra Bose, for he believed that while fighting you should change your mode in accordance with what your enemy chooses. He started with non-violence but then strongly felt that an army is necessary to fight the enemy and started building it, but when the government was ready for the talks he switched his gears and convinced ANC that they stop armed struggle. This shows the adaptability a leader should have. No matter what ones principles are, one should side step if the situation demands so.

A funny thing happened when I was going through his life in prison: I found many similarities between a prison and a hostel. Yes, you read that right! The routine life in hostel makes one forget about the time and outer world. The wardens make the rule and students are reluctant to follow it, officials would come and listen to the problems but there is a very little change after that. Students give nick names to wardens and other officials, students try to break out of the campus, having a visitor excites you! In hostel, the only thing worse than bad news is no news at all. It is always harder to cope with the disasters and tragedies one imagines than with the reality, however grim or disagreeable. A letter with ill findings was always preferable to no letter at all! (Now replace students by inmates, hostel by prison and read again!!

According to me the best take away of the book is that lot of leadership qualities have been discussed with real life situations. I would like to share some of the quotes from the book here:

‘As a leader one sometimes takes actions that are unpopular or who’s results will not be known for years to come’
‘Experience is the foundation of leadership and that obligations to the people take precedence over loyalty to an individual’
‘Sometimes there is nothing one can do to save something that must die’
“Exercise is a key not only to physical health but to peace of mind”
‘Truly to lead one’s people one must truly know them’
‘There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people right way’
‘Sometimes it is necessary to present one’s colleagues with a policy. Fact is already a fiat accompli’*
It also has a message for the mass “Do not expect to be driving a Mercedes or swimming in your own backyard pool the day after the election ….”

Finally he concludes saying “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more to climb. I have taken to rest to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended”.

All we need to know is “The darkest hour is before the dawn.” I truly enjoyed reading it and LONG WALK TO FREEDOM’ goes to shelf as one of my favorites.

* Fiat accompli = fact accomplished.