Tag: persepolis

5 Books I Wish I Read in High School

More and more high schools have been adding modern novels into their literature curriculum, which allow teenagers the opportunity to enter the current realm of books instead of staying stuck in the past. Despite the immense significance of literary classics, their themes and motifs can often be outdated and not relatable to a young audience. While coming of age masterpieces offer great insight into the minds of adolescents, more recent releases seem to have just the advice and spunk that high schoolers should be required to absorb in a classroom setting.

 

 

1. Just Kids by Patti Smith 

 

Image via Vanity Fair

 

Autobiographies make readers feel that they are talking directly to the authors. They leave nothing to the imagination—not confusing the reader with metaphors and symbols to muse over for hours and hours. Patti Smith, who may be foreign to the high schoolers of today, relates a common story of leaving home and chasing a dream in the big city. Taking place mostly in the 1970s, readers learn about a different kind of New York City riddled with drugs and sex, but also with music and poetry. She writes of finding herself in her passion for writing and playing music. Despite the different time period, Smith offers familiarity in her situation and the figures she meets along the way. The memoir acts as an encyclopedia of famous artists, writers and musicians as she runs into the likes of Andy Warhol and William Burroughs.

Smith centers her memoir around her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The couple rotates through being friends, lovers, roommates and ultimately soulmates. She gives a raw and honest depiction of the challenges of love and relationships in a tangible way. Smith’s ability to discuss such common topics in an artistic, yet familiar way can reach readers of any age, but could be especially vital to those about to enter a journey of love, loss and self-expression of their own.

 

2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 

 

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Image via NY Times 

 

Marjane Satrapi presents her life through comics. Her graphic novel documents her life from childhood to adolescence in revolution-time Iran. This novel offers the similar themes of finding yourself and growing up set in the contexts of a completely different world. Satrapi highlights all the common feelings and frustrations of being a kid in a succinct and digestible way.

The use of images in Satrapi’s text allows students to not only read, but now see experiences they can relate to, such as: speaking out against a teacher, sneaking out at night to meet with friends or ending your first relationship and dealing with heartbreak. The themes of Persepolis transcend borders, while also giving foreigners an insight into growing up during a revolution. Adolescence is commonly referred to as a rebellious time for young people. When set against the background of an actual political revolution, Satrapi’s message jumps off the page.

 

3. The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst

 

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Image via Goodreads

 

It’s not secret that the high school summer reading list is very straight. With an over-saturation of Catherine and Heathcliff or Romeo and Juliet, the actual existence of queer literature becomes questioned. Students are forced to rely on the hidden subtext of Gene and Finny’s relationship in A Separate Peace to get a fix of the world of queer theory that lays beyond high school classroom walls. Hollinghurst provides beautifully written queer stories that avoid stereotypes without sacrificing depth in his characters.

The Swimming Pool Library in particular follows wealthy and popular Will who saves the life of Lord Charles Nanwitch. The two end up working together as Nanwitch asks Will to read his past journals and write a biography. Through this work, Will learns the startling truth about the stream of progress of the LGBTQ+ community in history. The novel acts as a history lesson, as well as a beautiful piece of literature that reveals harsh truths and beautiful realities of queerness in the past and present.

 

4. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

 

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Image via Goodreads

 

Lahiri’s collection of short stories allow for shorter, more digestible stories that include a multitude of different lessons and takeaways. Lahiri explores the feeling of being pulled in two different directions culturally as an Indian woman living in London and the United States. Feelings of otherness and strangeness in an environment can become overwhelming in a time of change such as adolescence. Lahiri beautifully crafts stories about characters you cannot help but fall in love with on the twenty pages in which they exist.

One story in particular, ‘Sexy’, focuses on the struggle of feeling comfortable in your own body. No one understands this feeling better than adolescents who are trying to find a home in their new post-puberty bodies. Lahiri’s stories reveal the longing to be apart of something and the difficulties in doing so- whether that be a different culture, a different friend group, or a different person altogether.

 

5. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

 

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Image via Gizmodo

 

Published in 1979, Kindred may not necessarily be considered modern. However, Butler’s ability to combine science fiction with slave narrative is way ahead of her time. Kindred follows Dana who finds herself transported to pre-Civil War Maryland on a slave plantation from her 70’s Los Angeles home. She has to survive in the world of her ancestors to be able to live in better, more equal, days.

The combining of genres adds interest to the slave narrative story, which has been told many times artfully, but never like this. It shows the sharp contrast of the modern world to the past. Based in the 1970s, current readers find themselves transported to two places as society has progressed even further in the fifty years since. Butler’s novel gives students a reminder of the history they come from and the amazing progress made by amazing people in history. It also serves as a remind of how easily the past can reappear. It exudes progress and reformation and in our world today, we need this more than ever. There will never be a time when high school students should not be reminded of their pasts and be able to question their present.

 

 

Feature Image via Unsplash 

Not Into Superhero Stories? Check Out These Classic Graphic Novels

2019 has been a huge year for comic book adaptations, from Avengers: Endgame which was released earlier this year, to Joker, which is set to release this October. However, not all iconic comic books are based on superheroes. With the current overflow of Marvel and DC superhero movies, we tend to forget that some of the best graphic novels don’t necessarily revolve around characters with supernatural abilities. Here are some classics you may already be familiar with, but still need the recognition they deserve.

 

Persepolis

 

Image Via Amazon

Persepolis is a graphic novel written by Marjane Satrapi. It portrays the author’s development from her childhood years up to her years as an early adult. It takes place during and after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and it tackles the complex political and social aspects of uprisings. What makes this piece so unique is that it is an autobiography written as a graphic novel. It also uses “visual literacy”, which is the notion that pictures can be “read”, to strengthen what the piece represents. TIME magazine included Persepolis in its “Best Comics of 2003” list for its heartfelt storytelling and unique art style, and it is definitely worth a read.

 

Maus 

 

Image Via Amazon

Maus is an incredibly powerful graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, originally published in 1980. The story is a depiction of Spiegelman’s father’s experience as a Holocaust survivor. It also includes in depth interviews that Spiegelman conducted with his father on the topic. All of the characters in the book are illustrated as anthropomorphic animals, yet it still maintains its dark and monstrous tone. It is a deep-rooted, complex narrative, dealing with identity and racism, and it is the first graphic novel to ever win a Pulitzer Prize.  The Comics Journal called it the fourth greatest comic book work of the 20th century. It takes a significant part of our world history and depicts it in a creative, yet brilliant way. 

 

The Adventures of Tintin

 

Image Via Blu-Ray

The Adventures of Tintin is a series of comic books that started in 1929 by Belgian artist Georges Remi, better known as Hergé. Arguably the most popular European comic albums of the 20th century, the series has been published in more than 70 languages with sales of more than 200 million copies. It has also been adapted for the theater, television, radio, and film. The most recent adaptation is Steven Spielberg’s 3D motion capture film released in 2011, based on the two albums The Secret of the Unicorn and The Crab with the Golden Claws. The albums are set throughout a predominantly realistic depiction of the 20th century. They follow the hero, Tintin, a brave young reporter from Belgium, accompanied by his faithful dog Snowy (Milou in the French albums) as they travel around the world fighting crime and solving mysteries. The stories are well researched and have narrative elements that range from political thrillers, to science fiction mysteries. The albums are especially overlooked in the United States, and deserve more recognition than they get.

 

Featured Image Via Hollywood Reporter