These Books Made Me

Persepolis

June 16, 2022 Prince George's County Memorial Library System Season 2 Episode 9
These Books Made Me
Persepolis
Show Notes Transcript

Marjane Satrapi's groundbreaking graphic memoir Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood chronicles the life of a young girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In this episode we discuss the experience of reading graphic novels, the impact of Satrapi's illustration style, and the importance of this work in establishing non-serialized graphics as a legitimate genre of literature. We look at class, religion, and cultural memory through the eyes of Marji and wonder about Marjane's intended audience and how well the book resonates for readers who don't have pre-existing knowledge of Iranian history and culture (spoiler - it hits!). We consult with an Iranian-American millennial about the impact of the book in that community and we play a round of "name that tune" with some of the songs of Marji's childhood.

These Books Made Me is a podcast about the literary heroines who shaped us and is a product of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System podcast network. Stay in touch with us via Twitter @PGCMLS with #TheseBooksMadeMe or by email at TheseBooksMadeMe@pgcmls.info. For recommended readalikes and deep dives into topics related to each episode, visit our blog at https://pgcmls.medium.com/.

We mentioned a lot of topics in this episode. Here’s a brief list of some informative articles about some of them if you want to do your own further research:

Emma Watson interviews Marjane Satrapi: https://www.vogue.com/article/emma-watson-interviews-marjane-satrapi

Women and the Islamic Revolution: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/reconstructed-lives-women-and-irans-islamic-revolution

Satrapi interview about the film version of the book: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2008/mar/29/biography

Heather:

Hi, I'm Heather

Kelsey:

I'm Kelsey

Hawa:

I'm Hawa.

Heather:

And this is our podcast, These Books Made Me. Today, we're going to be talking about Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi. Friendly warning as always, this podcast contains spoilers. If you don't yet know who loves Kim Wild and Michael Jackson, proceed with caution. W have a special guest this week. Could you introduce yourself?

Rebecca:

Hi, my name is Rebecca Oxley. I work for Prince George's County Memorial Library System. I'm a Librarian III at the Greenbelt Branch. My pronouns are she and they, and I'm very excited to be on your show today to be talking about such an amazing book. I specialize in graphic literature for all ages, and I read for the Black Eyed Susans graphic, novel state book award. So what does this book mean to you? Was this everyone's first time reading it, if not, how did this reread compare to your memories of reading it when you were younger? So

Speaker 2:

I read this in high school. When I was in 11th grade, I wrote a term paper about it, which I did recently uncover, and it was fine. It was better than I expected. Honestly, I remember really loving it and really thinking it was cool that I got to write a term paper about a graphic novel when I was in high school. Looking back, the only thing I could remember is the wor the word SHA , and then that she really liked music. <laugh> those were the only two details that stuck with me. And the whole time you were prepping before I read those were the only two things that I could like contribute to the conversation. So clearly a lot of the politics, even though I wrote an in-depth paper about them kind of went over my head a little bit.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. This is my first time reading it. So, you know, initially a lot of the stuff was kinda like going over my head so I can relate to that feeling that you had, but no, I'm really glad I got to read it with you all, because it's one that I've heard a lot of good things about, and it's been great to have, like, it's great to have people that I'm gonna be able to unpack what I read with.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I came to this one as an adult after high school. I thought it was awesome when I read it the first time, it definitely like fit in with the other graphic novels that I was really into at the same time that I was reading this one. Um, like I remember reading this fairly concurrently with Pedro and me by Jud Winick and both were memoirs, both were a black and white style, and I thought they both just hit so hard. And it really, I think other than mouse was the book that really just made it sink in for me, like how much power there is in images.

Speaker 4:

Same, I, I came to this book. I was, I was in college. I was an undergrad and I had recently read mouse for the first time. I had taken a course on art that was created by , uh , victims during the Holocaust. So it was a very specific topic and I was so completely blown away by mouse that when my mother then sent me these books, when they first were released and at first I was like, Mmm , I don't know if I wanna read this, but I was heartened by the fact that it was a memoir. And once I read them, I just kept reading them over and over again and, and asking everybody, do you know about these books? So I will go ahead and give a little summary of the plot. So Persepolis was originally published as two volumes, the story of a childhood and the story of a return in English in originally was published in France. So it's published in French as four volumes. Now we often see that it's published today as a complete omnibus. So in the story of a childhood young Margie is being raised in Iran in the 1970s when Persian culture was dominant and progressive, and the Shaw was in power for good or for ill and following the overthrow of the Shaw and the wave of the Islamic revolution. Margie's family struggles to find their footing in the increasingly fundamentalist environment. Margie's entire life is essentially turned upside down by the new regime. And she admires the activism of the important adults in her life who bravely protest are arrested and even killed , uh , by the state or others as the war with Iraq begins. And Margie is beginning to emerge as an intelligent rebellious teen . Her family has to make a really hard decision about how best to protect her, just some content warnings for our listeners. Uh , there will be some discussions of war rape, torture, murder, and execution, as well as child soldiers.

Speaker 3:

Okay. So I'm gonna give you a little bit of information about the author. Marja Shai was born in Raed , but grew up in Teran . Her childhood is largely chronicled in CEPS, one as a teen, she relocated to Austria where she studied at a French school as she had attended the Fran in Teran as a child, and was fluent in the language. She ultimately returned to Teran for a master's degree after a brief period of homelessness and illness in Vienna, she relocated to Europe permanently in her twenties and married a Swedish man settling in Paris. She gained fame after the release of propolis and eventually turned her graphic novels into a film that debuted at can in 2007, Soro has been an outspoken activist for both women's rights and liberal political parties and Iran. She primarily works as a film director now and is a frequent interview, subject and public speaker.

Speaker 2:

All right . So let's dive in on our discussion today. Usually we like to start off with just a discussion of how it held up, you know, this was written in, you know, the early two thousands. So it's been almost 20 years. Are there any things that are really standing out as things we don't really say anymore? Things that are kind of big differences , um , from when it was written to now?

Speaker 4:

I definitely think that the work holds up, particularly because as a graphic novel, that kind of presentation, that kind of format, her style is very high impact, black and white. It's very painterly and , and it is sort of evocative of Eastern stylistic motifs. And her narrative is very similar as well. It's very straightforward. It's sort of unencumbered by how she's thinking about it now as an adult writing this story about her childhood. And I think that it effectively captures not only the essence of childhood, but the essence of womanhood. And then the essence of being a woman of middle Eastern diss descent, who is Muslim, and then parsing things out between what was before and what it was now, or going back into really ancient history. Also, it's a really great teaching tool because even in my college years, I knew very little about 20th century Islamic history, particularly in Iran. I knew a lot about Persian history, but I didn't know so much about what came after the Islamic revolution. So this was a really interesting window that I think is still really valuable today. Yeah,

Speaker 1:

I agree. Generally, I think this book is pretty tremendous as a , a geopolitical work. I mean, I think you get so much more out of this than you would get from a history text in a lot of ways. The only thing that I caught when I was reading it, where I was kinda like, oh , that's a little bit cringe when she is wearing a button, she gets stopped on the street. Like she's confronted by. I don't even know what to call them. Like basically the fundamentalist women's brigade they're

Speaker 4:

Like on the guardians of the revolution.

Speaker 1:

Yes. They're like on the street intervening people that they think were wearing the veil wrong, or that look too westernized, and she's wearing a button with Michael Jackson and they confront her about it. And she says, no, no, this is Malcolm X. You know, he's , uh , he's a prominent American Muslim leader. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

She's like , she's the head of the black Muslims in America. And

Speaker 1:

Then, and then she says back when Michael Jackson was still black. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

It's so funny because I literally have that page opened because I was going to say that. And I was just like, I went back and forth on if I wanted to bring that up, cuz I was just like, it seems so minuscule, but I'm a huge Michael Jackson fan. And I've seen like interviews of him where he's mentioned like, you know, people say these things, but like I am black and I'm always been proud to be black. And I think getting older and like, like back then, I probably would've read it and thought nothing of it, but getting older and seeing those interviews and knowing that he has this like pride in being black. And doesn't like, when people say those things, I would've been like, mm yeah , it's a little cringe. Well,

Speaker 1:

And it's clearly meant to be humorous in the book. And I think reading, it made me think of the skin I'm in episode that we did how up , because we talked about vitiligo and racial identity and it was like, Ooh , that's maybe not as funny as you thought that was like , that's, that's a little pouch ,

Speaker 3:

But her trying to be like, yeah, it's just another back Muslim guy. Like it's cool. It's cool. Like that part was funny. That was clever. It's just like, if she hadn't added that like little extra part, I would've been able to like really enjoy that part, but yeah. <laugh>

Speaker 1:

Yeah. There's also some class issues in here that are, I , I think grazed over kind of quickly. So the first maid that they have, who's actually this child, they basically adopted Mary she's lived with them since she was a little child. So child labor is a thing that just doesn't get like that was normal, so right . It's not really commented on. Um, and she sort of treated like a member of the family, but then she disappears from the book without much mention there's sort of the like failed love affair with the neighbor boy. Oh mm-hmm <affirmative> and then she is replaced at some point later in the book by miss Nazare I think is her name as their new maid and that woman, there's a scene where they're talking about, you know, the uncle is making wine. He's the like family bootleg ner , I guess <laugh> but he has the maid , miss Nere stomping, the grapes in the bathtub . Yes. And she's like, God , forgive me. Yes . She's like having like a religious crisis about it , but at the same time, he's still making her do it. And it's again, it's depicted as like humorous, but then if you really think about it, it's like, Ooh , that's kind of a bad like power differential there where she's being forced to do something she's clearly I'm comfortable with. But the issues of class in this book are real interesting anyways. But generally I think the book holds up extremely well. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

I was wondering where like the maid fell into like that black hole and then it was reading the part about the, the newer , the newer maid stomping. The grapes in the backyard was, was funny to me because it reminded me of, so when my mom first came to this country, she said she , her first job was at a bowling alley. And uh , she said she quit after her first day because they wanted her to serve alcohol. And she was just like, no, I'm not doing that.

Speaker 2:

I really loved this book. I think it's amazing. I did have two like things that kind of stuck out to me. And one of them was, I did feel like she picked up a lot of themes that I wanted to learn more about. Like we spend so much time at the beginning learning about her relationship with religion and how she feels about her religious identity and how it kind of separates from her, from her parents in a lot of ways. And she's talking to God and, and like, that's like , uh , an episode and then we never really come back around to hear like, how does she feel about religion now? How has that evolved during the revolution? Like, I really wanted to learn more about that. And I feel like there were a couple things like the Mar Mary there made that I'm like, oh, where did that go? Like, I wanna wrap this up a little bit more, but obviously life is messy and you know, maybe that's realistic.

Speaker 3:

And I think that's the thing when like you're reading works that are like memoirs or like about people's like actual lives. It's like, well, I can't touch on something that didn't happen. You know, mm-hmm <affirmative> maybe she has no idea what happened. Yeah. I mean, I don't know if that's necessarily the case, but it would've been interesting, but certain things like you did want more context on so

Speaker 1:

Well , and we're looking at a book that is a remove from our current time. And it was that time when it was written, was a remove from the time of the events in the book. So we're looking at like 40 years out or so mm-hmm, <affirmative> from the events that are in the book, which was a very different time in many ways. And then even having her write this in the late nineties publishing in 2000, that was a very different time. I do feel like that Michael Jackson aside would not have elicited as much of a response 20 years ago. Absolutely. You know , and now it's kinda like, Ooh , um , and like the issues of class again, it's like, that was not important to her. The , the maid like was sort of like family, but not enough like family. And like, she just kind of disappears out of the story in the way that it probably happened in her actual life. You know, like that there is that sort of dismissal of lower class people in here throughout the book in a really interesting way. And then she kind of ties that back in with communism mm-hmm <affirmative>, which her parents are these , you know, these big communists, her grandfather was, became this outspoken communist, but he only did that after he lost the privilege of his class, you know, his, he was a prince and he lost that status with the Shaw . And then it's like, well, now all of a sudden I wanna fight for everybody's rights. And for this sort of like, no one should have class, if I can't have class privilege, you know, which I think is an interesting thing. That's just sort of interwoven in the book. But again , with it being a graphic, you , you , aren't gonna dive into something with the sort of depth that you would in a text only memoir, cuz you can devote a hundred pages to her, her religious thing, but here you've gotta get through it in a certain number of frames, a certain number of pages. So it really does change it . It leaves a lot more open for the reader to wonder about or try to chase down answers about. I think we all sort of went looking for some of her contemporary, you know, interviews and, and speeches to sort of figure out where she landed with some of these things because it's not in the book.

Speaker 4:

Right. I mean sometimes it might just be a callback to a childhood where it's like something is in your face and a part of your life. And then if it suddenly leaves your view, a child only has, but so much like intellectual bandwidth that they can hold up. Narrative space is really valuable when you're, when you're writing a graphic novel, unless you wanna write like a huge tone , but Margie does talk about class in terms of her feeling really galvanized about socialist movements and admiring socialist intellectuals. And then her acknowledging that essentially her family is part of the bourgeoisie mm-hmm <affirmative> in Iran and that they are somewhat affluent and she asked them, well, why can't Mary eat with us? Why does she have to take her meal at a separate table? So it's interesting because I feel like as much as we're looking back and be like, oh , some of this is not, not so great. Now back then, it was probably super progressive, right ? Mm-hmm <affirmative> it was just like a half step in the right direction or something. And now, you know, it just doesn't hold up to as much empathetic scrutiny. But I think that that's what she was trying to show was that she was asking these questions about religion, about class and she was seeing, okay, this is, this is not right. Something's not adding up here. And I'm noticing that the adults don't seem to be getting this, but I am. So I think that that is kind of almost like the big takeaway , but you're right. Like as a reader, it's like, I want to know more, tell me more

Speaker 1:

Well , and I do think it tracks with where she landed philosophically because in sort of current interviews that I found with her, she returns over and over to this idea that you can't change culture in broad strokes. You can't do things sort of by Fiat where you say, no, we're all gonna be good about this thing. Or we're all gonna do things this way, because then all you do is you empower the thing that you're getting rid of to become a symbol of rebellion and people latch onto that. And so there's always sort of this polarizing effect when that happens and she, she speaks, you know, I'm paraphrasing, but she says over and over that culture changes in small measures. It is a slow process and you have to know it's a slow process and you keep doing the work and you keep engaging, but you have to know that it's going to happen in baby steps and incrementally and not in like broad sweeping changes. So I think that is just very much part of sort of her outlook that maybe she retained from childhood, even that like, you know, when I was a kid, I saw these sort of big sweeping attempts at reform in one direction or another, do nothing. You know, it caused war, it caused strife. It caused chaos in her country.

Speaker 4:

And as a , as an author with her very much, what you see is what you get. Cause I kind of thought, well, maybe this is kind of a , an indictment of revolution in general, right ? As you were saying, it's too much, too quick, too fast. And um, things start to fall apart. But with, so Trapi , I've learned not to read into things , uh , too far, she's very French in that. She'll just be like, no, this is what I'm saying. And that's all that I'm saying. And if you don't like it that's, you don't have to read it.

Speaker 2:

I think that that conversation is a good transition to talk more about this idea of it as a political novel at its core. Obviously throughout the book, she is conveying her, her evolving understanding of the political situation, the historical evolution, a relationship with different people on different sides. How did that speak to us now? Or what are our takeaways from that? I know how you mentioned that like some of the stuff still didn't sink in. Uh , and I , I had a similar issue. Like this is not a , a moment of history that I knew anything about before I read it as a , a teenager. And clearly most of it did not. I think I processed it, but I didn't like absorb it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and coming back to it now, I think I got a lot more out of it, but I still, this is the other critique I had, which is, I wish she would put dates on things as they were happening because I had a hard time understanding like where we were and what, what age she was as things were happening, but also like where in history we were. And I feel like a couple times she kind of goes back and forth in time in a way that it was a little confusing. So it made it a little harder for me to process how the world was changing. But that said, you know, I really enjoyed and appreciated how blunt she was about her views, how it was from the perspective of like, she was probably the most conservative one in her family in a lot of ways. And then she kind of like, kind of came around to joining them where they were

Speaker 1:

Well, and it is interesting reading it. Now we have a lot more context for this than, you know, when I read it originally, when it had just come out, sitting here. Now we, we saw Aman deja and sort of his regime there, being able to sort of now trace what happened after this book happened. And how did this play out longer term that added a lot more weight and context to the events as I was reading them again, you could just see sort of the long tentacles of different things that were occurring. I was thinking I was reading it in America. We talk about history, but we are talking about very recent history. We are a young nation mm-hmm <affirmative> like by any standard, it's a few hundred years we're talking about, it's not this really lengthy cultural past for America. That is not the case. Uh , what , you know , the Persian empire was had very long history and mm-hmm , <affirmative> , um , that's referred to so many times she goes back to 1600 years ago, 2000 years ago. And that plays in, in a way that I wonder how much that confuses us, because it's not the way that we're used to sort of viewing our own history, but also how much that kind of informs the way that a child of her age in that time would've been viewing the events at the time, like to have that long of a pass that you're aware of and sort of know how things have played out over that amount of time. Like how much you're bringing that to the table as you're experiencing those things. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, I don't know. It's, it's a very culturally different experiencing of history than I think we have here.

Speaker 2:

Well, it made me think a lot about who her intended audience was like, was it globally people who didn't live through this? Was she trying to like convey it , uh , the history to people who live in Iran now to like, learn more about their past, like, you know, people who experience civil live elsewhere? Like who, who was she looking to convey it to? Cuz I think then that would change how much context she needs to go into, but she does kind of have the forward where she's giving you the historical context. So to me it , it reads like she wanted an external audience to read it, but I don't know . It made me think about <laugh> I , the intended audience and do I have space to critique putting enough dates in it or, or giving you enough history to understand what's going on?

Speaker 1:

She said in an interview that I read that she had had, she had fallen into this very deep depression prior to writing this to the point that she called for emergency assistance , because she was so debilitated by it. And when they came to get her from her apartment, she lived in, I guess, a flat in Paris that was like multiple stories up. So they had these like old pervy stairs and for whatever reason, they were stretching her out rather than walking her out. And as they were stretching her down the stairs, they dropped her and she fell and hit her head and ended up needing stitches. But she spoke to that as being like a turning point for her because it like shocked her out of, sort of the paralysis of the depression she had been in and made her feel like she needed to just basically birth this work, which is a really interesting way of talking about the work I think. But it also makes me wonder if she really cared that much about who the audience was or if this really was more of a like, exactly, I need to just record myself in this way to process. Yeah . That doesn't mean that, that there's no thought of someone else reading it. Cuz obviously at some point it went to an editor and they had feedback and whatnot , but it does make me wonder if it was so intentionally, like I don't know that she wants us to read this and think a specific thing mm-hmm <affirmative> does that make sense? I don't .

Speaker 4:

Absolutely. And , and that's, I mean, graphic memoirs are probably my biggest guilty pleasure except for maybe like , um, graphic nonfiction about true crime. But yeah, I love memoirs because what you, what you're served is what you get there. Isn't often a huge intention. And if there is like, for example, art Spiegelman doing mouse, I think at some point during it, he realized cuz at first it was okay, I wanna record my father's memories and then it was, well I wanna share. And my father's memories, then it became, I have to mentally unpack and go through this trauma, even though I didn't actually go through it. And then I think he started to get a greater sense of like I'm actually archiving this narrative. And so I'm gonna think a little bit about how it's presented. I feel the same way about my friend Daher by dear factor mm-hmm <affirmative> uh , which is like, it's just him talking about the things that he saw, the different signs, right? Just processing about what it was like for, to , to be friends with a young Jeffrey Dahmer. And at some point you start to get the idea that he started thinking about , okay, other people are gonna read this book. So he went back to his, from his original comics that he made before he published that and did tons of research. And I feel like that's what Soro is kind of doing here is that I think she lightly did go back and kind of say, oh, let me clarify this because not everybody who's reading, this is somebody who grew up in Iran during the 1970s is gonna understand this. But I don't think that that was a priority for her. I

Speaker 1:

Agree .

Speaker 4:

I think agree . She was just like, this is a cathartic act and oh you wanna publish this? Okay, go right ahead.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. And purgative in a way. And like when you bring up mouse, I think that's a really good sort of correlate to this because I, generational trauma is very present in this book. Just like it is in mouse . Mm-hmm , <affirmative> where you have a child. That's not only processing their experience, but they're processing the relayed experience of their elders. All of the information I hear about what happened with her grandfather what's happened with her uncles, the torture, the incarceration of extended family members, neighbors she's processing all of that, even though not all of it is lived by her. Yeah. Again, this idea that like writing this was cathartic in some way where it's like, Hey, this helps me somehow deal with this experience that I have that has been weighing me down in some way, like it's, it's giving it scaffolding, right? Yeah . Like it's giving it a structure. So you can start to talk about it, start to deal with it. Start to make sense of it in a way that doesn't happen when it's all just feelings. Mm-hmm

Speaker 2:

<affirmative>, that's really interesting cuz I was kind of thinking about it while rereading as a memoir, that's designed to give historical context, but I think it's a great point that it's really a memoir that gives historical context. You can understand the memoir and the person. And I think good evidence to that is that I just double check there's no back matter in this book. <laugh> there's no like for further information about the revolution or citing her sources, it really is all about her own recollections and her own kind of perspective on, on what was going on at the time.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Hard agree . And then you press that down through this even smaller lens of child, I'm a child. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I see things with a child's eyes. I'm trying to figure it out. I'm trying to figure out why I'm passionate about something or why I noticed this and nobody else does. And I think that what we get is an incredibly honest piece of work

Speaker 3:

As someone who admittedly said that some of the stuff I kind of went over my head, I do appreciate it. Not being over explained because I'm not super into like history. At least I wasn't in high school, grades are terrible. Um, so I didn't want it to feel like a history book. Like I was okay with saying, okay, she mentioned this. It's not something I'm super familiar with. Let me take a break and maybe try to look it up. I think that's something that we have the convenience of being able to do. So I appreciated that being over explained . So

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And the images, I think help with that too so much. I mean, even if you don't really understand who's the bad guy or whatever, what the core attention is like you can understand when you see that, you know, that image really tragic image of the cinema earning . Like you feel that, you know, and you know, that like something terrible has happened here and I can understand how that would've affected her to have knowledge of that or when she sees her friend bracelet in the,

Speaker 3:

Oh , that

Speaker 2:

Part was so, you know, there's, there's such graphic truly like graphic in the like really horrible, like hard to watch kind of graphic element of visualization in this book that like really helps convey the sentiment of, of what's happening, the feeling of what's happening.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. We're looking at something through a really specific cultural lens. So that's where the visual narrative is really, really helpful. There's certain things like when she's drawing a dead body and their eyes are sort of raised to heaven and then there's sort of like smudgy circles underneath them. You know, clearly that translates right to just about any audience. But if you look at Iranian , uh , representations, this type of artwork for martyrdom and things like that, you start to see that there's a language we're being sort of led in on because she's using her indigenous cultural landscape and language to kind of give us footing to understand that. And like how I was saying, I love that that's not over explained like, would I love to read some back matter about Persian iconography and how it , how it features this book? Sure. Why not? Do I need it? Absolutely not. She

Speaker 1:

Did have some interesting comments that I found about why she chose to do it in black and white. You know , she's a filmmaker as well. And she has talked about how text reading is a very active form of participation for the reader. You have to fill in the blanks, you have to infuse it with images and all of this. Whereas film is a very passive form where it's happening at the viewer, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you're getting somebody else's depiction and this is sort of the middle ground for her. As she said that she went for black and white because she thought that was best for the rhythm of the reading. It's extremely difficult to work in black and white because you cannot cheat. I think that that's really true of the visual she puts in here because she gives you just enough. It's just enough to support the text and then have you sort of go beyond that. So we see the smudge and we picture a lot worse than a smudge. Right? Right. It really is that middle ground between film where it's not graphic enough, you know, oh , we're seeing a person explode on the screen. Instead we see these sort of squiggly drawings and some limbs in a head , but you get what's occurring in that with real weight. Mm-hmm <affirmative> . And then the words that surround that like about the boys with the keys around their neck, I think that hits a lot harder than if she would've gone with a much more like detailed graphic style. There's much more impact to that. Or at least there was for me.

Speaker 4:

Right, right. I mean, first of all, it puts more emphasis on concept as opposed to the individual that I'm confronting right now in this panel. But I think that that certainly hearkens back to cognitively what happens when you're reading a graphic novels that you're actually reading on three levels because you're reading these words and you're processing them as language, and then you are reading the visuals and it's not as passive as you would think. And then there's this third part of reading that's coming together where you have to put those two narratives together to be one cohesive narrative. There's a lot of great research that I study when I was going to grad school. That's actually done by Jean Le yang, the amazing children's graphic novelist. And he

Speaker 1:

Was a boxers and saints.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. He, yes , boxers and saints and American born Chinese. But when he was doing his masters in mathematics, he did a whole thesis on how sequential art can be used as a teaching tool. And so he put out some of the first research, I still cite about what's happening in the gutter. And the gutter is a space between the panels. So even a very young reader may not be cognitive of the fact that they're doing it, but they are looking for implication and inference. And they're filling in all this information together that may not even really be there. It's just sort of implied. And that's why I think that's what really separates like a really good graphic novel from basically a masterpiece like pers

Speaker 2:

If you asked high school term paper , Kelsey , why the art was in black and white, she would say it's all about juxtaposition, which I believe was a, an AP language term that I had to use. And in an essay of some sort

Speaker 4:

<laugh> <laugh> ,

Speaker 2:

But I will say, I do think that part of it as well, whether intentional or not, she has a lot of different really stark opposing concepts, like clashing against each other in this work, even in the style of writing, like really, really dark stuff happening. And then really funny jokes that you laugh out loud in the middle of a terrible scene. There's something really funny. And you're not sure even how to process these two opposing feelings that you're having. So, you know, just putting in 17 year old Kelsey's feelings about it.

Speaker 3:

Okay, nice . 17 year old Kelsey, I see <laugh>

Speaker 4:

<laugh> and our audiences will not know this, but I have a tattoo of a call number it's seven forty one 0.5. And back in the day, librarians didn't really know what to do with graphic novels. So they shoved them in the seven hundreds with all the art books where nobody could find them. And they , they said, oh, well, these aren't real books and it's not real reading. And you know, now we know better. So I have this tattoo. It's just a reminder of how hard it used to be. <laugh> to , to get your hands on stuff. If you were growing up poor and couldn't buy everything. So back then, they didn't know if graphic novels would sell. So comics were selling, supers were still selling and horror comics were still selling in America. And then of course, Mongo was becoming really popular and starting to get published, but everything was published in black and white for the most part, unless they knew it was gonna be popular because they didn't want to invest that money without knowing there was gonna be a return. Now we're treated to all kinds of really wonderful, you know, juvenile teen and adult graphic novels that are in color or in black and white, or are , are colored using different things. But that was actually probably the basis of why it was published in America because they do definitely go back and put pressure on people to colorize things. So yeah, just a little bit of , um , hot industry tea there.

Speaker 2:

It would not be the same book with color in it.

Speaker 3:

Love it . I love that backstory on your tattoo because I've been looking at it since you got here. So <laugh>, <laugh> , it's really cool. Thank you for sharing that. <laugh>

Speaker 2:

We still randomly have some comics , um , shelves in that section. Yes

Speaker 1:

We do. We have like the blues and Garfield things and

Speaker 2:

It's

Speaker 4:

Very odd.

Speaker 3:

I always wondered about that. So yeah. <laugh>

Speaker 2:

So I think kind of, as we're talking about this, a lot of this was not history that we maybe grew up knowing or understanding. I think we've talked a little bit about why it resonates, but I wondered if we could push in on that a little bit more. Why do we think this has had such a lasting impact on folks? Why do we think it stuck with us as readers? Why does it resonate with a reader?

Speaker 3:

To me? I just think that I've never read anything like this. Never read anything that's touched on this subject. So for me, I think that's why it's something that's gonna stick with me. And I think it's just a different view of this time, period.

Speaker 4:

I think that for me, being in my late teens, early twenties and reading this for me, what resonated was women's rights issues and how different things were because I was raised in a very social justice kind of household with my mom and my mom used to bring me to protest as a child. And a lot of them were women's rights protests. So I had this like very early kind of example of that. Not only is this a thing you can do, it's a thing you should do. It's part of your civic rights and duty. And if you don't stand up, you know, then noble will be standing up. But if you stand up, maybe someone else will stand up with you, her

Speaker 2:

Defiance,

Speaker 4:

Right. Defiance, exactly like that. She was just, it wasn't that she was chasing windmills is that she saw dragons and she was going to slay them. And so that's exactly how I felt at the age that I was reading this book myself. I am very fem presenting most of the time, but I am a gender nonconforming person and I am a woman. And so for me, you know, that's how I said, I had never encountered something within this format or this art form that really gave that to me in an authentic way, as opposed to something like strangers in paradise, where yes, there's a lot of great feminists and LGBTQ topics coming up, but it's somebody's story, right? It's somebody's imagination and they can kind of do what they want with it. So to know this actually happened to this person, but also all the people around her . So I , I love the strangers in the background because every single one of them is a person with hopes and dreams and family and all kinds of different things. And some of them went through great pain or death and, you know, some of them just sort of acquiesced and tried to survive. And I don't know, it just, it made me think about a whole different area of the world and a whole different area of woman ship that I had not really been fully aware of. My idea of inclusion was like, I'm gonna think of everybody as opposed to, I'm gonna actively create space for the intersectional parts of our community.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. I think the women's rights aspect really stuck out to me too. Especially at that time in my life when I was reading it. I think even if I didn't know specifically about the ways women were being oppressed in the book before I read it, you know, I can make connections to things that I cared about, things that I was passionate about. Rebecca , I think you mentioned, you know, talking about making a connection with, you know, dress codes at school and mm-hmm <affirmative> women and young women, especially being kind of sexualized for clothing that they wear, even when, you know , that's not their intention or design. And so I think that absolutely, you know, connected with me and I'm sure I was really fiery about it when I was reading it. Then I think too , the childhood perspective that we've come back to a couple times, I feel like she does such a great job of aging. The dialogue of her character, as it goes on, is very much from the eyes of her at each age. And you can kind of see her maturing and becoming hard into some of this stuff as she goes on. But you know, all the reactions that she has where , you know, she's like, oh my uncle's in jail. Like, whoa, that's so cool. Or like when her friend's dad is missing, she's like, yeah, he is probably dead. She doesn't know how to read people yet. Mm-hmm <affirmative> she has like some knowledge she probably shouldn't have, but she doesn't know how to interpret that into the empathetic adult mature response to it. And I feel like that not only kind of creates some, I don't know if humor is even the right word, cuz it's not funny, but it is kind of funny her reaction sometimes, but also just like very, you can really identify with her as she's going through it. You feel like you're with her.

Speaker 4:

I think that that is somewhat linked to the idea of the veil and the veil sort of juxtaposing, how women are sort of clocked in our own environments just for like having female bodies and existing. Like if I'm at at high school and I'm wearing a spaghetti strap tank top, you know, I'm gonna get sent home. Meanwhile, the boys who claim to be too distracted, nothing is, is done about that. You know? So

Speaker 1:

One thing that to me is very relatable in this book. And I think we've talked about it in some of the other books that we've looked at is how femininity is weaponized by the people with power in here. And Soro has a lot of thoughts on the patriarchy, but this illustrates it so many steps along the way, like the veil becomes a weapon of oppression, right? But this is the most feminine thing you can do, but you have to do it right. It's it's putting people in a box in that way, which then separates them at school from the men. So there's all of these things. The ,

Speaker 2:

And they're separated between the people who wear it, quote unquote correctly. And the people who don't

Speaker 1:

Right. The television newscaster in one of the frames is talking about how women's hair is emanating rays that do bad things to men kind of thing . So it needs to be covered. There's the really heartbreaking bit about neuro sun , I think is the name of the girl that gets imprisoned and executed, but she's raped before she's executed because it lets her caps off the hook for executing her , cuz you can't execute a Virgin also is weaponizing the rape, right? Not just against her, but against her family as well because they send her , they send the diary and

Speaker 3:

They make sure that they know to send that message.

Speaker 1:

She send di Virgin , that that has power as well. And I think that that is the fight right throughout when somebody is weaponizing something against you, every step of the way you fight. And I think that is a common thing for most women. It , it doesn't matter where we grew up. It may look a little bit different, but there is always this, something is being weaponized against you because you are a woman and it often takes the form of traditionally feminine things. Like you should be quiet because girls should be quiet and docile and you know, but really that's saying like, you're not allowed to have feelings. You're not allowed to speak up what you have to say. Doesn't have merit, you should look a certain way because if you don't and something happens, that's your fault. Not the person that did it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so there's sort of any culture. I mean, I don't think we can probably think of a woman that would to escape , not have this resonate on some level mm-hmm <affirmative> where like, oh yeah. I remember when I was a kid, you know, the first time I was cat called, I remember the first time someone snapped my bras strap in the hall. I remember the first time I had a teacher tell me it wasn't ladylike to do X, you know, there's, there's all of these things where this is much more extreme. Obviously people are killed in this book for being women, but it's, it's there for everyone. Like I think it's maybe that's generational trauma for all of us as well, but it's there. Yeah . If you're you're female. So I think the book hits for that reason.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I think speaking to the veil too, like I think the act of making it required, takes away the power. It can have to make it freeing for some folks who would like to, you know, cover up and not be viewed by their body parts or whatever. Like I think there are a lot of folks who really love it as a religious symbol, as a, you know, personal modesty symbol, whatever choice. But by making it required, it takes that away from folks and makes it a tool of oppression.

Speaker 1:

So choppy had something to say about that too. She interesting because she's French now. She lives as a French citizen. There was a French ban on veiling.

Speaker 4:

Oh yeah .

Speaker 1:

Her interview. She said that on the one hand she hates the veil because they forced her to put it on when she was a child. And so she hated it for that reason. But on the other hand, she feels like it's not her place to tell someone to wear it or not like that's their choice. But she said, once France said, let's ban it . Now the veil's a symbol of rebellion for those people. Right . So you've inverted the very thing that you were trying to prevent. It's still being weaponized. Right. So mm-hmm, <affirmative> in one sense, it was put it on and that's the weaponization of femininity and the other one it's like, you're not allowed to put it on. And that's the weaponization of right . Femininity towards those people.

Speaker 3:

It's like, there's no in between. It's so interesting. The whole thing where, when she's on the street and the ladies pulling Herve down made me think, so I'm Muslim for context. So when I was in Sundays school, I think I was like 12 years old when we started. And so I remember picking out an outfit . I was like, okay, I'm gonna pick out something that's covering. I picked out this hoodie and these jeans that I loose fitting and you know, had my hijab on. Of course. And I remember that day, the Imam who was like speaking, he was like mentioned on the one side, the women's said on the other side. And he had me and my sister stand up as an example to show the women on the other side as what to not wear. Mm . And I was just so traumatized by that lowkey because I was just like, I spent all this time picking out what I thought was something modest just for you to tell me that it wasn't. And then to put me on display as opposed to pulling me aside. Yeah. So <laugh>, there's really no end to that story, but that was little traumatizing. I still think about that . It makes me very mindful of when I am stepping into these spaces that are like more religious. I try to be very intentional of making sure that I'm picking out something that is overtly modest to the point where nobody can say that it's not mm-hmm

Speaker 4:

<affirmative> I'm sorry. You went through that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I am too looking back. I can see now why as an adult, it's not something that I would wear back then, but I was 12. Like you don't know till , you know, right. You don't know till , you know exactly. I'm like, yeah , I was 12 could have just pulled me aside or said something to my parent or something like to make an example of me. He was lame

Speaker 4:

<laugh> I am glad that you brought that up though. Kelsey and Heather, because I think it is important to know that there are plenty of women around the world who, for them, the veil sets them free and the veil protects them. And it doesn't matter what I think about that as a white woman from America, like what I think about that is completely irrelevant, but it is important also to notice. Cause I like that, you know, how are you brought up the guardians of the revolution come up? And that was one part that really bothered me when I was first reading. It is that, you know , she's like 12 years old and they're getting mad and mad at her . So then they yank her veil down over her eyes and like, you know , cover your hairy little. And I'm like, y'all are grown women talking to this child, but you know, for me, it's good without Tropi drawing a lot of attention to it. It's, it's a good reminder. And it's certainly a good reminder to us in America as well that the patriarchy is not just something that's subjugated on women purely from a male perspective, the misogyny is coming from inside the house. Oh ,

Speaker 1:

Hundred

Speaker 3:

Percent .

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And she shows that in the book mm-hmm <affirmative> she talks about it. Now. She said in a patriarchal culture, who are the ones that raise the children, it's the women mm-hmm <affirmative> who says you have to be pretty and you have all the rights . It's the women in the home. Yeah. A hundred percent the calls coming from inside the house. <laugh> like,

Speaker 4:

I think that pop culture, we shouldn't let that slide by. I know we've been talking about some pretty heavy subjects, but yay . Pop culture. Right ? So

Speaker 3:

Let's lighten it up.

Speaker 4:

<laugh> yeah. Something we can disassociate to . I do love all the mentions of the eighties music and her parents, man. Did they go above and beyond for her? They like travel to other countries and bought all kinds of contraband, like a poster of Kim wild, all Jackson button .

Speaker 1:

That section

Speaker 4:

Made me laugh

Speaker 1:

Out loud because her dad is sneaking back posters. Her mom sews the rolled up posters across the shoulders. So he looks like a big box. The Arthur from the golden girls , Carol Burnett and the like curtain dress thing. It's such an absurd looking thing. And the way that she has the , uh , customs officer's face, you can tell, he's just like, what the heck is going on here? He knows something's wrong, but he can't quite get at it. It's just so beautifully done.

Speaker 3:

And it's so funny to me because I'm looking at this drawing and I'm imagining him trying to walk without ripping or messing up the poster

Speaker 4:

On an

Speaker 3:

Airplane. Right. Like they were so worried about like creases and folds. And I'm just like, how could he sit on an airplane or get through like anything without messing it up. But I guess it worked out better than folding it in this

Speaker 4:

Suitcase . I definitely think so . Trapi was telling on herself a little bit too, because you know, she's in this bourgeoisie family and like her parents come through with all this amazing stuff, cassette tapes and pair of Nikes, you know, I didn't get a pair of Nikes when I was a kid and she's straight up just like, oh, I don't want postcard size . I want a poster. Where's my poster. I was like, oh wow.

Speaker 1:

Like

Speaker 4:

A right now lot's like crossed borders with this contraband. Just that you can feel yourself a little bit. I do love how she talks about how she goes to her first punk party. That was obviously something that was very meaningful and how her mom, you know, spent time making this distress, looking quote unquote punk outfit with

Speaker 1:

Her nail, not quotes .

Speaker 4:

<laugh> , I'm , I'm a , I'm a punk rocker. And I was raised in a punk rock way . So I absolutely love the fact that, you know, she felt so excited and empowered by that. But also I think she kind of delights a little bit and like, oh , I'm kind of sneaking around, you know, I'm doing something that is outside the grain and I'm getting away with it.

Speaker 1:

She comments on that too. You can see that again in the drawings, like there's that, I don't know how she does that. Cuz the drawings are very simple, but just the way that she depicts Margie's body language it's so effusively joyous. You can tell, she feels like she's getting away with something. That was another interesting thing I saw in one of the interviews that she gave, where she was talking about how, when she was a kid, she felt that adrenaline related to like a poster or like a little party or something. And she said something like in France to fill out , you'd have to like Rob a bank <laugh> like that you can't bottle that, you know, when you don't have that level of oppression, the things that you can kind of like, Ooh , I'm doing something bad. Become very limited. She has very eclectic taste. Even though she kind of describes herself as in the punk scene, the things she lists as the, as the various like pop culture, things that she's into are so wide ranging like ABA, iron maiden, the BG

Speaker 3:

<laugh>

Speaker 1:

Kim wild. Like she has just a very interesting collection of, of things that are to her, you know, westernized and cool and

Speaker 4:

Illicit the denim jacket, you know?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

The , the denim jacket totally. Would've been me, the denim jacket and the Michael Jackson pin . I think it's interesting talking about what she did in terms of her version of oppression. I'm like, yo, she got expelled from school for punching the principal. I'm like, that

Speaker 1:

Was hardcore.

Speaker 3:

SIS was wild . Like

Speaker 1:

That was punk like punching your principle is legit. That's

Speaker 2:

Hardcore . The picture is kind of funny too, cuz her principal's just like laid out. <laugh> like flat on the ground . <laugh>

Speaker 4:

And that's like the beauty of a graphic novel when it's done really, really well. Like, so trappy works very ly. So she doesn't spend a lot of her time creating a lot of realism and capturing those details. She focuses in like when you're doing for anybody, who's not in the art world. Gesture drawing is when the model changes, posed like every 20 to 30 seconds. And you just have to draw as fast as you can. And what you get out of it is sort of the boiled down essence, the no nonsense movement of forms. And I really feel like that translates, especially like when the guardians revolution come out, cuz they're in like Shadur or they're in beca and they're sort of just like these looming figures, like you literally see them sort of night on ball mountain or something just like looming over like threateningly women with threatening or is , is what I would describe that as .

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no . Now that you mention that , I feel like I can't unsee them looking like blobs. I can't see me cuz I'm like on a mic, but I'm like crouching over

Speaker 2:

<laugh>

Speaker 4:

Before we close this out . We're not gonna get to percep lists too , which is a whole different, amazing part of a story. But I think it's normal to feel a lot of anxiety when you're reading this book, it's totally normal to feel some kind of way thinking about, are these people gonna get caught or is she gonna get caught? Because we do see what happens to the people who get caught. Right. And so it just kind of builds that tension. So to anybody who's a younger reader, like a Twain or teen who's reading this, just know that if you're feeling anxious while reading this, that's probably what Tropi intended because she herself was feeling that anxiety.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Like even reading and knowing that they were doing certain things, I'm just like, oh my God, because I know that these are things that people consider to be forbidden in Islam or things that people frown upon. So like when she was putting on the nail Polish, I was like, oh my gosh , she's putting on nail Polish. Like nail Polish is something that's hard to hide, you know?

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

It's just wild . Like I was really feeling it and especially because of having some more context in terms of having family members who, I mean, I am Muslim, but I have family members who are Muslim and more strict and look down upon certain things. I was like, oh my God, I'd never be able to get away with that mm-hmm <affirmative> so, yeah, I'm excited to get into the second part

Speaker 2:

Eventually. Yeah . To admire it because it takes a lot of guts to not only internally mentally think like I don't support this, but actually actively do things that, you know, are kind of frivolous, like the nail Polish and having wine in the house and having your parties, but that essentially give you your humanity and allow you to fight back. But you know, that if you got caught, the punishment would be so, so severe. And I think those little acts were rebellion just really, I really admired them. And it made me wonder if I would have the confidence and the , the guts to do something like that. If I was in a similar situation, I feel like I would be like, I will follow the rules. I'm so sorry. At least don't be mad at me, but the problem is you can't really follow all the rules. Right. That's part

Speaker 4:

Of it. Yeah. I , I guess, you know, I didn't realize it until just now when you told me, but that was certainly the type of young lady, young person that I was, was constantly testing boundaries, constantly doing protests, whether they were avert or subversive. And so I just totally vibed with her as a protagonist. Yeah. And without that, putting myself on complete blast, I even more identified with her as a protagonist, having gone to book two because my teenage years were marked by a lot of risk taking . I grew up in an urban area where it was extremely normal for people as young as 13 or 14, to be engaging in different risk taking behaviors. I experienced homelessness at a young age or just like housing instability. And I spent a lot of time alone also just like in my own company. So again, I completely vibed out with that. And then of course she does go through this whole like reinventing herself thing when she returns to tear around . I think most people can kind of identify with, because we've all had to flip the script now and again, and then, you know, been kind of feeling ourselves about it, which is all good.

Speaker 1:

Each episode, our luminous literary in HAA will provide miscellaneous insights from our book. It's time for Haas's head space .

Speaker 3:

Hi, everyone. Welcome to how's Headspace, a part of the podcast where I literally say whatever comes to mind in the book, there's a part where Margie's parents traveled to Turkey. Margie's only request of them was to bring her back a few things, a denim jacket, some chocolate, two posters, one of Kim wild and another of iron maiden, a band who her dad also liked to keep the posters from getting confiscated on their way back into the country. Margie's mom tore the lining out of Margie's dad's jacket, placed the posters inside the jacket, and then sewed the lining back on. Luckily for me, when I was growing up, getting my hands on posters was not as difficult or as dangerous as a nineties baby growing up in the early two thousands, I loved being able to put posters up on my wall. And so to my sisters, for us, it was as easy as going to the grocery store and picking up the latest edition of word app teen dream, J 14 tiger beat or another of the many teen targeted magazines that were filled up with posters. Word up was definitely my favorite because I was able to find posters of many of my R and B and hip hop faves at the time like Sierra BAU , B five Rihanna and B2. K . I remember one year for the Valentine's day audition , they had posters of each of the members of B2. K . And they said something like, will you be my Valentine on them? Of course I said, yes, I carried around the one with my favorite member, low fizz on it for every Valentine's day. For the next few years. One of my favorite full size posters was from tiger beat magazine. And it had the cast of one of my favorite movies from back then high school musical don't judge me. Okay, well folks there, you have it. I'm off to see if I can get my hands on the coffee of word at magazine to the next time to see what else is going on in this head of mind .

Speaker 4:

So now let's talk to somebody who actually knows something about one of the main topics covered in this book.

Speaker 5:

Thank you so much for joining me today. Could you take a moment to introduce yourself?

Speaker 6:

Yeah. My name is Kate chin . I grew up in California and I moved out here about 13 years ago and I've been affiliated with a lot of different Iranian American causes and organizations, both personally and professionally. And you know, one of which is hardest place the Iranian American community center, which is based here in Northern Virginia, where they do educational activities and cultural activities by the community center for, for the Washington DC area.

Speaker 5:

So you have a bit of a personal connection Tolus and it's released. Can you tell me a little bit about your connection to it and its impact when it came out?

Speaker 6:

First step is at its core. It's a story about the complexities of the Iranian experience in the 1980s . And so, you know , that's the story that's being told, but at the same time , um , it weaves in a lot of themes around the challenges around immigration navigating cultural differences and what it takes to immigrate the conversations I had within families around it. And, you know, all of those themes kind of came together and were really relevant to me because the book came out in 2003, I was right in the dab of, you know , high school. Uh , a lot of those conversations were happening, understanding the stories of my parents and family, the context of why they immigrated. It's always kind of been near and dear to me because those conversations were so close to home. It's also a coming of age story in many ways, you know, looking at the Mar John's kind of trajectory of, you know, navigating her love of like Michael Jackson , heavy metal, but trying to explain that to her family in Iran and how to , how to reconcile that, you know, as a teenage boy and , and California, I actually had to confront those conversations too.

Speaker 5:

So as you mentioned, it came out almost 20 years ago. It described a time period that was 20 years before that. And it's through the lens of an Iranian French woman. So given the differences in time and culture, I'm curious if you can speak to any similarities and differences that you see in some of the cultural touchstones that she describes and your own experience within the Iranian American culture here in DC,

Speaker 6:

There's definitely differences, you know , between what an Iranian American experiences versus an Iranian French or an Iranian Austrian. But , you know , going back to recognizing this is a story about immigration and cultural differences, navigating that and coming of age , start with kind of the , the similarities, which is, you know , the themes of overcoming cultural differences. It's always going to be a big piece, no matter where you're agreeing to , you know, I've had, I have family members that, you know , immigrate the Europe, Canada to the us , and yeah , of course the, the , the end result is a little different everywhere, right ? And those differences are important, but really the , the core of that experience is the same with everybody. Right? What , what was it that, you know , drew you to immigrate ? What was it, what was it like when you arrive ? And those , you know , those cultural norms are always kind of , you know , they always have, they manifest themselves in , in funny ways that, you know, you don't necessarily think about it, but, you know, Iranians, for example, have a ritualistic form of etiquette called power . I mean , it's designed to be , um , equalizing between two individuals trying to do anything from exchanging a , a present or getting like a glass of water for our friend. There's always this ritualistic, no, you go first. No , uh , I , no , I won't, you know , back and back and forth . And my uncle who actually was, you know, went to school in the west, but immigrate to Europe in the late eighties, it took him years to figure out that whenever he offered to pay the bill at dinner, that when he was doing that in front of Western Europeans, oftentimes they took him up on the offer and he was like, well, I didn't realize that that was gonna be the case <laugh> . And so there's always funny little things and , and for everybody, right, whether you immigrated to the us , or if you immigrated to, you know, Norway or Sweden, I would say the difference is though, and this speaks a little bit to the DC area. The differences are how international Iranian culture and Iranian activities have become more prevalent in the last just 20 years. I mean, I would say even in the last 10 years, you know, I grew up in California where there was a lot of Iranian Americans . We lovingly call it carists . And, you know, I remember Persian new year, which rolls around every , uh , March 21st . You know, it's a springing Equinox, you know, there was the , the Iranian American community got very excited, but there wasn't really anything else going on around , beyond that in the last 20 years though, you know, using DC as the example, you know, the Smithsonian puts on a phenomenal program, celebrities, wishing people , uh , Noah ROS HEROs , making it easier. I think for folks who do choose to immigrate. And just to say that, you know, based off of what I understand from my own family's experiences, even those little comforts at home, weren't there 20, 30, 40 years ago. And now it's like a , it's a given , right? Like I just need pull up my phone and say, where is the closest Persian restaurant? And , and , you know, you jump to it. So the one thing that forceps is unique for a lot of Iranian Americans, is that it's remarkable that I got the story out for the experiences that Iranians went through in the eighties and early nineties, the cultural questions, the issues, the , all of that. It was remarkable that respect unremarkable, because so many Iranians have stories like that. And so I, you know, I mentioned that in 2007 , when we had , like , when the movie came out, I went with a group of friends, all Iranian Americans, all who had some similar time period that are immigrated to the us . And I remember all of us sitting around the table and saying, oh , you know, like I had an , that had to do X , you know, my mom did this , you know, we exchanged all whole set of stories. And so it's a fantastic piece that almost for the community generated a conversation, at least those Iranian Americans that are kinda of my age bracket, it was like a conversation. Well , oh , I had no idea that your parents went through this experience or, you know, so on and so forth.

Speaker 5:

You're speaking to having some of those experiences growing up. And I'm wondering if there's still a connection or if there's still that sense of history that younger generations have today.

Speaker 6:

It's funny that you mention that my sister is eight years younger than me <laugh> so we bridge the millennial gen Z , uh , difference quite well. And the difference I think, and, you know, this is just an anecdote from one family, but the access to resources for one's Iranian identity is a lot easier today than it was when I was coming of age . So an example is trying to learn how to read and write, right? Besides like what our parents taught us really, you know, we had to, like, my generation had to go to a Persian bookstore, find like the book and then like, you know, put , you know , put in kind of the , uh , square energy , uh , sweat equity to be able to like, learn how to read and write, well, my sister's generation, well there's apps online. There' websites there , ares. There's a prevalence of both here , um , in the DMV area, for example, but also in LA there's a lot more resources that are available. Social media has in many ways, made it easier, but I've , I've noticed that the younger generations are more inclined to , to use their far C even though they might not necessarily know far C perfectly well there , there's almost like a more gun to it, which is awesome.

Speaker 5:

Well, thank you so much for, for joining me today and sharing your own experiences. I really appreciate

Speaker 6:

It. Thank you so much. And thank you for picking percep and focusing on kinda the Iranian American experience and look listening .

Speaker 3:

Okay . So there are a lot of pop culture references in this book. So for today's game segment, I thought it would be kind of fun. If I read the lyrics of some of the artists that were mentioned in a dead pan and have, y'all try to guess the song.

Speaker 2:

Should we make our buzzer noises?

Speaker 1:

I hope you didn't do like just Kim wild songs or something that

Speaker 3:

Song . No , no , I didn't. Okay. So

Speaker 2:

There's two points available. One point for the artist , one point for the song. If you get both, you get two points.

Speaker 3:

That sounds

Speaker 2:

Good. Then if someone knows the other half, then they can get a point.

Speaker 3:

How about that? Okay . We

Speaker 1:

Can go with that question. Are these Margie's time period or are they our time period?

Speaker 3:

I try to pick for Margie's time period. Okay . We

Speaker 1:

Go see, be the best we can .

Speaker 3:

Isn't she wonderful? Isn't she precious less than one minute old. I never thought through love. We'd be making one of ,

Speaker 2:

Oh, I thought we had to wait till the end of the song . No ,

Speaker 1:

I think we both, like , all of us started at the same time. I think we all know this one. Those were like lyrics. I could actually hear in my head. Yeah . Like while you're saying this, I

Speaker 3:

Tried not to sing it .

Speaker 1:

Love lovely . Yeah . Is it that wonderful? We all simultaneously got that one.

Speaker 3:

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk

Speaker 2:

Buzz. Go ahead. Staying alive by the beaches . Yeah.

Speaker 3:

<laugh>

Speaker 1:

I'm man. No time to talk . <laugh>

Speaker 3:

Right . Bright lights. The music gets faster. Look, boy. Don't check on your watch. Not another glance. I'm not leaving now, honey. Not a chance. Hotshot. Give me no problems much later, baby. You'll be saying, nevermind. You know, life is cruel. Life is never kind. Ugh .

Speaker 1:

I got nothing on that one. Yeah. Eighties vagaries all the way. No tune came to mind.

Speaker 3:

Y'all want me to say what it is?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. What

Speaker 3:

Is it? It's kids in America by Kim wild.

Speaker 1:

Oh,

Speaker 3:

It's so funny because I was so sure that you guys were gonna get this song because we mentioned Kim wild.

Speaker 1:

So I , but I didn't prep any Kim wild. How does it ,

Speaker 2:

How does , can you sing it? Isn't it like looking at a dirty, old rooftop down below the cars in this city go rushing by.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So I note , I think I know all those words because of the Jonas brothers. <laugh>

Speaker 3:

Okay. So I think Kelsey's winning right now. Yeah. Yes. Okay. So this is the last song y'all I'm sorry. Okay. The ended really quickly, right? That's

Speaker 1:

Good.

Speaker 3:

She was more like a beauty queen from a mu movie scene.

Speaker 1:

Michael Jackson, Billy Jean . <laugh>

Speaker 2:

Tired .

Speaker 1:

Rebecca. Kelsey .

Speaker 3:

That is the right answer. You guys are tied , even though you didn't , you didn't follow the rules this time, but it's okay. We're all, we' , we're all friends here. So

Speaker 2:

We made a concerted effort and we heard some music along the way. That's all that matters. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

That's all. That's all that matters.

Speaker 2:

Yay . HOA . Thank you.

Speaker 3:

You got found one that gets you guys stumped. So that was fun. It

Speaker 1:

Was. And we really should've predicted that. Given the book, I

Speaker 4:

Thought you were gonna throw some iron Maide in our way with I like, I don't know any iron man .

Speaker 2:

I know I was really ready for the iron maiden .

Speaker 3:

Yeah . I didn't. When I read it, I initially, I didn't even realize that iron maiden was an artist. <laugh>

Speaker 4:

They were like a satanic panic staple in the eighties.

Speaker 2:

They're so good. Highly recommend. Go back.

Speaker 3:

Mm-hmm <affirmative> noted

Speaker 2:

If you like, like rock <laugh> <laugh> if you don't then maybe don't all right . It's time for the Bede test. Each episode we ask whether our book passes, the Beck doll test, the Becktel test asks whether a work features two female characters who talk to each other about something that does not involve men or boys. So do we think this book passes?

Speaker 1:

Yes . Yes

Speaker 4:

I do. Totally.

Speaker 2:

It's a quote from Citra and a Vogue interview, which she seems to be kind of referencing this test. She says in all this imagery of women in films, how many leading roles do we have that are women that are unrelated to the men? She's always a wife, a mother, a lover, a grandmother. Can't she just be her. I like that. Yes .

Speaker 1:

Also I do wanna comment. One of the like conversations that makes this pass is between her and her grandmother in the bed. And her grandmother says she soaks her boobs in ice water for 10 minutes in the morning, at night to keep them perky. And I, that is wild. And also I felt like that was the like die of wet hair, bad medical advice. When this book was like, that would not do anything except make your boobs really cold and painful. Well,

Speaker 2:

But , but cold , cold water is good for your skin and hair. So maybe it does do something.

Speaker 3:

It's funny cuz

Speaker 1:

She , we do nothing to fatty tissue. Like , I mean it might temporarily make you look very perky cause you're nippy, but it's not gonna like keep em that nippy .

Speaker 3:

It's just so weird that that was the conversation she had with her grandmother. Like the day before she gets shipped off to Austria, like

Speaker 1:

You gotta ask the important questions,

Speaker 3:

Like , like the Jasmine flowers in the , in the Bronx , that kinda whole , that sound kinda wholesome . And then it went from that to like, yeah. How your boob so perky , like <laugh> y'all look hilarious.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's it for this episode of these books made me join us next time when we'll discuss a book in which the main character is named after a reptile, if you think you know which book we're tackling next, drop us a tweet. We are at PGC MLS on Twitter and hashtag these books made me.