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Iranian graphic novelist presents her recent works

Image � / Marjane Satrapi
From "Persepolis"
From "Persepolis"
Image � / Marjane Satrapi

The Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies will present an evening with Iranian graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi on Oct. 23 in the Stata Center's Kirsch Auditorium at 7 p.m.

A native of Tehran and a resident of Paris, Satrapi is the author and illustrator of the internationally acclaimed graphic autobiographies "Persepolis" (2004) and "Persepolis 2" (2005). She also created a graphic novel, "Embroideries" (2006).

At MIT, Satrapi will discuss her newest work, "Chicken With Plums." The book tells the story of her great-uncle, a celebrated Iranian musician who gave up his life for music and love.

Satrapi's memoir "Persepolis," originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, describes what it was like to grow up in an intellectual Marxist family during the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Using only stark, flat black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi recounts her experiences as the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution and war with Iraq in the 1980s took their terrible toll on society, family and personal life in Iran.

A sequel, "Persepolis 2," follows Satrapi as a young woman who has left her home to study in Vienna and Paris.

There is a thread connecting Satrapi's works that stands apart from the political. "When I come to the United States, I'm supposed to be the axis of evil. They are supposed to be the nest of Satan," she said. But the "basic problem of a country like mine, apart from the regime, apart from the government, is the patriarchal culture that is leading my country. That is why the government is still there," she said.

Yet Satrapi does not define herself as a feminist. "I am a humanist. I believe in human beings. After what I have seen in the world, I don't think women are better than the men. See what the women soldiers did in Iraq--that was not better than the men. Margaret Thatcher was a woman, look what she did to Great Britain. Look at Madeleine Albright," she said.

Satrapi's talk is sponsored by MIT's foreign languages and literatures section, the MIT Contemporary French Studies Fund, the Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies, the De Florez Fund for Humor and the Council for the Arts at MIT.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 18, 2006 (download PDF).

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