Thursday, July 07, 2005

Book Review: Marjane Satrapi's "Embroideries"

Marjane Satrapi who catapulted to fame after bringing us the very popular illustrated novels, Persepolis 1&2, memoirs of a young Iranian woman (herself) growing up during the Islamic revolution of Iran, now brings us her latest graphic novel called "Embroideries"

"Embroideries" which I read in a little under an hour takes place in the matter of a single afternoon where a group of Iranian ladies (the author's grandmother along with her friends and neighbors) get together over a cup of tea and chat about their marriages, divorces, lovers, how they lost their virginity, plastic surgery and other topics along the same vein.

While the book didn't bore me into a stupor, it did nothing to entertain me either. I was expecting a shocker from the outspoken and non-conformative Satrapi, but these conversations were tame---no different from any conversation any group of ladies anywhere in the world might have over a cup of tea.

OK, one thing that did come across as different however, is that a woman's virginity is an extremely prized possession in Iranian culture---I'm not saying that it isn't elsewhere, but Iranian women who are not virgins when they marry will go to extraordinary lengths to convince their newly-wedded husbands that they are virgins, including undergoing surgery to rebuild the hymen (infact, the title "Embroideries" is a euphemism for this surgical procedure), and all this because most Iranian men will not accept a non-virgin for a wife.

In the book's favor, I will say that the drawings are creative and vivid and I loved that the author opted for a non-grid layout---it made the book seem more of a novel and less of a cartoon.

pic. courtesy: