Saturday, February 6, 2010

Philadelphia Reads a Graphic Novel Together

Philadelphians are reading French author Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel, The Complete Persepolis (left), as the selection for the 2010 One Book, One Philadelphia.

One Book, which is entering its eighth year, features more than 100 lectures, discussion groups, and workshops at numerous venues throughout the city. Organizers also helped coordinate high school programs for students in 10th grade and up. They have distributed 5,000 copies of Persepolis to every city library and at least one class in every public high school in the district. Charter schools and Catholic high schools are also participating. The writer and artist for the graphic novel (or comic book as she prefers to call it), 39 year old Parisian Marjane Satrapi (right), launched the program with a lecture at Philadelphia's Central Library in September.

First published in France in 2000 to rave reviews, Persepolis has become an international hit. In 2007, Satrapi added filmmaker to her resume when she released an animated version of the book.

The selection of Persepolis as the One Book for Philadelphia is an indication that the graphic novel has achieved not just public recognition, but is held in high regard by literary critics and scholars. Persepolis attains the same level of literary greatness as Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel, Maus.

Satrapi, who cites Spiegelman as a formative influence on her work, says that combining words and images is for her "a natural way to tell stories. . . . Besides, the earliest ways human beings told stories was the drawing," she said, referring to cave drawings.

Click on the heading above and click on "video" to see the trailer for the movie version of Persepolis.

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