I am almost at the end of the most brilliant book called Persepolis by an Iranian woman called Marjane Satrapi.I know it’s not new and everyone else has probably already read it, but it has really brought home to me several things.
First, the joy of a good book. I woke up at 5.30 this morning and very quietly reached for it, there was just enough light to make out the words and the droll pictures (it is a comic book).
Second, it is the first time I have really understood what it must be like to live under an oppressive and hideous regime. Even though the Arab Spring is going on all around me, I have never really imagined what it means to families like ours, never been able to relate to it on a personal level. These are things that happen to other people. But Satrapi is so easy to relate to and so similar to people I know on so many levels that you feel the sheer injustice, stupidity and hypocrisy of the events around her almost as if they are happening to you. She writes and draws with such humour that you are totally captivated, as well as being shocked and disturbed by the story.
The other day I tried to explain to Olivia what the Arab Spring is. As someone who never does what she’s told, she found it inconceivable that whole nations live doing just that, with little or no personal freedom. It was tough to get through to her. “Why do they put up with it?” she asked. “Why don’t they just tell them to shut up.”
I think I will give her Persepolis to read, and I hope she relates to it as much as I have. Not just because I want her to understand oppression and injustice and political freedom and human rights. But because I want her to know what it feels like to really enjoy a good book.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011