When Marjane Satrapi’s first boyfriend invited her on a date to an Austrian “Revolutionary Anarchists’ Party,” she knew it was love. A child of the Iranian revolution, she gleefully imagined mobs of radicals roaring, “Long live Bakunin!” But when she got to the party, her feelings for her boyfriend “suffered a devastating blow.” The so-called revolutionaries were playing tag, listening to Janis Joplin, and grilling sausages.
With her two-part graphic novel memoir—Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (2003) and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (just out in English from Pantheon, 153 pp., $17.95)—Satrapi says she hopes to reach those Westerners who are unwilling to protest. “I was in America last year,” she tells the Voice, “and I met lots of people against the war. I’m amazed that, with all these newspapers and journals, nobody comes out and says, ‘Fuck you, George Bush.’ Where’s the freedom of speech?”
The great-great-granddaughter of one of the last Iranian emperors, Satrapi grew up with her “ass between two chairs.” When the 2,500-year-old Persian dynasty was overthrown, she was bewildered by the religious regime that replaced it. At 10, she used her new chador (now mandatory) for practical purposes—strangling classmates, making costumes, jumping rope. When her teacher yelled at the kids for making light of Islam, the class huddled in silence, while Satrapi blurted out, “Poopoo!”
Growing up, Satrapi’s verbal outbursts were frequent, whether or not socially productive. Her parents sent her out of Iran at 14 because they recognized that with a mouth like hers (she now describes Bush as an “idiot” who uses the world as a “toilet to shit on”), she’d eventually be arrested.
Comics were a “big revelation” for Satrapi, who, prior to reading Art Spiegelman’s Maus, believed the form was only for twitchy adolescents. “Making my pages is the sweetest moment of my life,” she says. “For me, it is the best way to protest.”
Marjane Satrapi reads September 24 at the Lolita Café, 266 Broome Street, 917.273.7920.
DENNIS LOY JOHNSON
Zinc Bar, 90 West Houston Street, 212.477.8337
Although Michael Moore caught some initial footage, Johnson’s The Big Chill is the first in-depth documentation of the Bush inauguration protests.
192 Books, 192 Tenth Avenue, 212.255.4022
In Snow, Pamuk—dubbed the “Turkish Borges”—tells the story of a trio of teens who commit suicide when deprived of their chadors.
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, 212.288.6400
“Bombay is the future of urban civilization on the planet. God help us,” writes Suketu Mehta in Maximum City. In his first book of nonfiction, Mehta (who is currently working on a film starring Tina Turner as a Hindu goddess) chronicles the history, culture, and politics of Bombay.
‘THE NEW YORKER FESTIVAL’
FIAF, 22 East 60th Street, 877.391.0545
New School, 66 West 12th Street, festival.newyorker.com
Throughout the day, there will be three panels on political art: at 10 a.m., “The Literature of Politics,” featuring Edwidge Danticat, Cynthia Ozick, Orhan Pamuk, and Dave Eggers; at noon, “80 Years of Political Cartooning” with New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff; and at 1 p.m., “Art and Politics,” with Bernard-Henri Levi, Clive James, Simon Schama, and Anna Deavere Smith.
Labyrinth Books, 536 West 112th Street, 212.865.1588
In her new book, Kristeva analyzes the language of the French erotic novelist Colette, according to theories of feminism, semiotics, and semanalysis (a science that Kristeva personally developed and named).
STEPHEN ELLIOTT+DAVID AMSDEN+ANDREW SEAN GREER
826 NYC, 372 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718.499.9884
Stephen Elliott knows that “It’s hard, oh so hard, to trust the media.” Looking Forward to It: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the American Electoral Process is his unabashedly subjective travelogue of the 2004 Democratic presidential campaign.
New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, 212.229.5488
Spiegelman says he hopes his next graphic novel will be light and frivolous, but for now he’ll stick to documenting the great traumas of contemporary history. In the Shadow of No Towers—his response to 9-11—is about a chain-smoking cartoonist named Art Spiegelman who lives in Soho and wears cheerleading clothes.
Center for Religious Inquiry, St. Bartholomew’s Church, 109 East 50th Street, 212.378.0222
In The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization, Bulliet argues that Islam and Christianity are parallel civilizations, deeply intertwined.
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, 212.415.5500
In his most recent book, Democracy Matters (sequel to his bestselling Race Matters), West accuses Americans of nihilism and calls for an “American Christianity” of justice and love.
KGB, 85 East 4th Street, 212.505.3360
Endearingly named the “Babel of the Bronx,” Charyn, one of the great graphomaniacs of our time, has published 37 books, including crime stories, a graphic novel, and an exegesis on the history of Ping-Pong. His most recent, The Green Lantern, revolves around a production of King Lear in Stalinist Russia.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 7, 2004