Let me say first that I do not have much interest in biographies, history, or politics. Persepolis is basically all three of those things, and I loved it!
The author, Marjane Satrapi, tells her story of growing up in Iran and what it was like to be in the wars there. As a 10 year old at the time, she remembers the change from being very free in 1978 to having to wear the veil in 1979. She also tells of her time as a teenager in Austria, where her parents sent her to be away from the war, and for education free of the restrictions of Iranian rules. She also shows how many Iranians were behind closed doors, where the veils could come off, and people who were more liberal minded would hold parties and use forbidden things (music! games! make-up!), for which there was a strong black-market for. Basically, it challenges what the US-centric thinking is of what Iranians are like.
Because of my lack of interest in history and politics, I am probably not fully understanding some things... despite that, ye olde review word "compelling" applies to this novel. I read it in a few hours with barely a break, it just kept me wanting to see what would happen next. There was some humor injected into what was largely a horror story of war, plus the intriguing story of this brave woman who was taught to stand up for her freedom amidst oppression.
One of the things I am having a hard time grasping is that her parents seemed to prefer the life/freedoms they had under the Shah, and yet didn't seem to agree with the Shah either. My parents and siblings actually lived in Iran for a few years in the 60s (I wasn't born until '78), but I think that asking for information from them would only give the western view of events and not really help with the view the author is trying to convey.
The artwork is very simple black and white drawings, but the way facial expressions are used to mark the emotions is amazing (especially during the younger years). The 1st and 2nd panels on the first page had me hooked with the impact of "this is me" and then "this is my class photo"... a group of girls nearly identical because they are hidden by their veils.
Anyway, I found Persepolis fascinating and highly recommend it.