Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

At the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, we often talk about storytelling as a public work skill.

One example of a powerful story, uniquely told through the medium of graphic novel, is Persepolis. This book – along with a recent animated film by the same name – has generated a lot of buzz for the way author Marjane Satrapi recounts her memories of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Her work teaches us an important point about effective storytelling: to make a connection with your audience, make it personal. In a recent interview with the Star Tribune, Satrapi said, “the only way to be universal is to be very personal. If you talk about big things like a nation, it’s very abstract. What is a nation? Tolstoy said if you want to talk about the world, write about your small village. I just concentrate on the human side of it, try to be as honest as possible, and don’t try to make a hero out of myself.? Whether you read it or watch it, Persepolis is unlike any story you have ever seen.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs