Dec 9, 2008

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

Though not a sequel to Persepolis, Embroideries is set in the same sort of universe. In Iran, a group of nine women – including Marjane herself, her grandmother and her mother – gather for an afternoon of tea and conversation.

Maybe you’re thinking that doesn’t make for much of a story, and in that case, you're in for a surprise. The topics they discuss include relationships and sex, life and death, and gender and power, among others. All are illustrated with personal stories that range from touching to absolutely hilarious.

Embroideries is so intimate, so funny, so open and warm. I think that my favourite thing about it was also one of my favourite aspects of Persepolis: the fact that it shows what happens behind closed doors in Iran. The fact that it shows so well that regardless of their government or the society they live in, people will always be people, and they are pretty much the same everywhere.

Some of the concerns these women share are specific to their circumstances (for example, in the context of the book, an “embroidery” is a medical procedure used to restore a woman’s virginity), but most of them are completely universal. Another thing I loved was the sense of closeness across generations. You see women of different ages talking openly and just having a good time together.

The artwork is very similar to Persepolis: black and white, very simple, but also very expressive. Here’s a page (which you can click to enlarge):

If you think there’s an interesting story leading up to this, well, you’d be right. Embroideries is a very quick read, but it’s one that stays with you. It’s more lighthearted than Persepolis, and so it doesn’t quite have the same emotional impact, but it touches important issues all the same.

Other Blog Reviews:
Biblio File
Books of Mee
Tripping Toward Lucidity
Valentina's Room
American Bibliophile
The Zen Leaf
In Spring it is the Dawn
Regular Rumination

(Please let me know if I missed yours!)

And now a few links I wanted to share: Bill Willingham, author of Fables, talks about a book that changed his life here.

And though I know a lot of you are already followers of Neil Gaiman and John Green’s blogs, I still have to link to these two posts, because there are no words for how awesome they are.


  1. Interesting. I've never read anything set in Iran before. I heard that Fables is being made into a TV series (or was it a movie? Can't remember) soon.

  2. I've only read a couple graphic novels, and that one looks good.

  3. I've never read a graphic novel before. This does sound interesting.
    Great reciew :)

  4. Hmmm, now I have to decide if I should read Persepolis first or this one! I'm sure I'll end up reading Persepolis first, but I'll pick this one up when I get it. She sounds like such an amazing author.

    And squeeee! at Ladytink's comment!

  5. I just bought "Persepolis" - can you believe it? I watched the movie months ago and it was as you'd expect - awesome. Now I know what I have to look forward to when I'm done.

    Excellent review, as always Nymeth!

  6. Great review Nymeth. This definitely sounds intriguing. I'm still spreading my wings with graphic novels-haven't found one that really stands out to me yet.

  7. I have read her other three books, but I have never read this one. I ordered it and I never got it for some reason. I no longer remember why.

  8. I remember you mentioned Persepolis and how you enjoyed reading it. This books sounds intruiging... and I'm always interested to learn more about other countries' history and culture etc. The illustrations though simple, but I can feel the impact through the strong black and white artwork. Will have to look for it. :)

  9. How have I not heard about this one? I read the Persepolis books, loved them; decided not to read the one about her relative dying, but I didn't know this existed. Off to see if my library has it...

  10. I hadn't heard about this one either. Thanks nymeth!

  11. I really enjoyed Persepolis, but haven't been able to find any of her other books.

  12. I really loved Persepolis, and was wondering if Embroideries is as good! Now I'm convinced I'll enjoy it :)

    Btw, have you seen the Persepolis movie?

  13. On my list now, thanks! PS I LOVE your reviews.

  14. This sounds SO interesting. I never looked at graphic novels as actual books worth reading, not until this blogging thing came along. I hope to be getting Persepolis this Christmas and I will certainly add this one to my wishlist!

  15. Oh my, now I want to read this sooooo badly! And I haven't even read Persepolis yet...that must be rectified. Very soon! Oh, I hope the library has this one! You know, even without your fabulous review, I think I would have had to find this one just from the page you shared.

  16. It sounds really good. I am always pleased when I find a book or film that sounds like it might not be that interesting--a group of women having conversation and tea--that turns out to be marvelous. I feel that way about The Station Agent. So much of that is just people having conversations but it is wonderful. I hadn't heard of this one but I am certainly interested. I've meant to get to Persepolis many times and just haven't...even had the film from Netflix at one point but didn't get to it. Bad me!

  17. From your review and from the comments from people who have read it or the Persepolis books this sounds like something I should check out!

  18. Ladythink: I didn't know about that!

    bermudaonion: which ones have you read?

    Naida: it's never too late to start :P

    Chris: though this works perfectly on its own, I think it's extra enjoyable if you know the characters' backgrounds, and Persepolis gives you that. So yes, read it first!

    J.S. Peyton: I can't wait to see what you think of it!

    Dar: I think Persepolis would be a great one to start with, actually. It gives you a good idea of what the medium can achieve.

    Kailana: I hope you enjoy it when you get to it. I need to get Chicken with Plums next.

    Melody: I love "visiting" other cultures through books too. And there's a lot of history in Persepolis! It's a certainly a book that helps you realize that some preconceptions are really nothing more than that.

  19. Ali: I hope it does have it!

    Tricia, you're most welcome! It's less talked about than Persepolis, but it's very much worth reading.

    Marg, I hope you manage to find this one sometime. I've been seeing her books around a lot lately, actually, and I found this at a bookstore in my town. I was surprised!

    Marineko: Not yet, but I really want to! From the trailer alone I can tell it's perfect.

    Care: Awww, thank you so much :D

    Joanna: few things make me happier than hearing people say they changed their minds about that!

    Debi: lol, that page makes you wonder, doesn't it? I think you'll just love Persepolis. And this too.

    Carl: I love it when that happens too. I hope you enjoy Persepolis when you get to it!

    Andrea: hope you enjoy them!

  20. I loved Persepolis, so I'll definitely be on the lookout for this! :)

  21. I've not read Persepolis or this one, but looks like I can't delay that any longer. Great review, Nymeth!

  22. I'm putting this on my wishlist RIGHT NOW!! I didn't know this one existed, so a big thank you for reading it and letting us know about it!

  23. This sounds like a really good read! I have not read Perseopolis, but I did watch the movie and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

    And did you hear that Fables might be turned into a TV show? I read it somewhere, can't remember where. Unfortunately, I predict failure... it sounds too good to be true!

  24. I love it already!Must put it on the wish list now!

  25. I really liked this one too. I think I was a bit surprised by how candid the conversations among the women were. It was just nice to revisit with the characters and see another part of life in Iran.

  26. Jessi, then I bet you'll enjoy Embroideries too :)

    Alice: You're in for some great reading!

    Trish, you're most welcome! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it.

    Kim: A TV show would be great, because I can't imagine a movie capturing all the story's complexities. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

    Valentina, I do think you'll love it :)

  27. Iliana: I was surprised too. But it's a good reminder that no matter how repressive a country's government is, people will find private spaces in which to lead their lives.

  28. I have Persepolis sitting on my bookshelf - now I wish I've already read it since this other book sounds so interesting!

  29. Stephanie, you're in for a treat with Persepolis! I look forward to reading your thoughts on it.

  30. I really enjoyed Persepolis but hadn't even heard of this. Satrapi's style really works for me, a great way to get tricky political and cultural topics across to people who would not normally read about them. I shall definitely look it up. Thanks!

  31. This sounds like a great read. I've never heard of it or Persepolis. Thanks for the recommendations.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  32. was just browsing your site and found this review. I just read the book too not so long ago. Loved it! :)
    My review here


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