Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Recommended Giving: Persepolis

As you might have guessed, I like to give books as presents. They're easy to wrap, ship well, never the wrong size or color, and if picked with care can give the recipient pleasure for months or even years to come. Ergo, for the next few days, I'd like to talk about some books that I think might make good presents this year. I'm not getting a kickback from Amazon.com or anything like that; "K" isn't carrying these books in her bookstore. (Although if I was smart, I'd change both of those states pronto.) These are simply books that I have found worthwhile, and in most cases have given as gifts myself.

First up, for the mid-teenage through 20-something young lady on your list, I highly recommend Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. This is the autobiography, in graphic novel form, of Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian illustrator and author who now lives in Paris. Told in stark (but not gruesome) black-and-white drawings, and occasionally (but never inappropriately) rough language, this is the story of the years leading up to the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution, and it's aftermath, as seen through the eyes of a 6- to 14-year old girl. The daughter of affluent and educated Iranian leftists, Satrapi came from a family and a social group who at first supported the Revolution, because they were simply incapable of believing there could be any government worse than the Shah's.

The story of what happens after that, as a thoroughly westernized young lady is forced to go under the veil, is by turns funny, sad, and at times downright terrifying.