Ah, the short-awaited follow up to the aptly titled prequel Persepolis. I bought both in a two book set earlier this year and, as you’ve read, I really liked the first one a lot.
Young Marjane is now grown-up Marjane. She has certainly lost all of the innocence of youth. The book starts with Marjane attending high school in Austria, where she was sent at the end of the first book. She has a rocky time fitting in. She has bad luck with men, parties a lot, does a lot of drugs, and continues her rebellious ways. She reaches a low point at age 18 and spends two months on the streets of Vienna, basically homeless. It’s at this point that she decides that she needs to go back to her family in Iran.
Then the fun begins. She moves back to Tehran and upon arriving from Vienna, she notes:
After four years living in Vienna, here I am back in Tehran. From the moment I arrived at Mehrabad Airport and caught sight of the first customs agent, I immediately felt the repressive air of my country.
She struggles with her identity…she’s an Iranian living in the west…a westerner in Iran. She didn’t know who the hell she was so she swallowed a bottle of anti-depressants and really hit rock bottom. But she doesn’t die, and eventually cleans up her life. She starts working out and goes back to school. She comes to terms with the country and ends up spending 10 years there. She gets married and she gets divorced. The book ends with her departing for France, where she ends up living and still resides.
So I guess she really never came to terms with the life in Iran. I’m generally confused about how women living in a Muslim state feel about it. Are they angry, sad, happy, content? I think it’s a combination of all of those emotions. I don’t have any idea. Amongst the absurdity of everyday life, Marjane has a love for her country and her family so she gets along. She relates a lot of funny stories that are downright bizarre. For instance, from the book (illustrated in comics so you don’t get the full effect):
These absurd situations were quite frequent. One day, for example, I was supposed to go see my dentist, but classes finished later than expected.Suddenly I heard a voice over the loudspeaker,
“The lady in the blue coat, don’t run!”
“The lady in the blue coat, stop running!”
“Hey blue coat, stop running!”
“Madam, why were you running?”
I’m very late, I was running to catch my bus.
“Yes…but…when you run, your behind makes movements that are…how do you say…obscene!”
“WELL, THEN DON’T LOOK AT MY ASS!”
I yelled so loudly that they didn’t ever arrest me.
Wow, that is bizarre. She lives in France now and I’m interested to get an update. In the book, despite her occasional disagreements with Iran and the people, she never denounces Iran and clearly loves her home country. Here is her Wikipedia link with a few interesting interviews in the external links section.