In the last few months that I was away from here, I read 4 books. Maus by Art Spiegelman, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Maus II by Art Spiegelman, and Persepolis II by Marjane Satrapi. Ok technically that makes it 2 books and their sequels.
All these books were lent to me by a colleague who believed I would enjoy reading these. It would be an understatement to say that I enjoyed reading these! I am a changed person.
Both Maus and Persepolis are set against the backdrop of political upheavels that changed the lives of their protagonists as well as their societies.
In Persepolis the Iranian revolution and the war with Iraq form the backdrop against which Satrapi plays out her autobiographical story.
Art Spiegelman didn’t have an interesting enough backdrop perhaps — growing up in America. So Maus is actually an account of his father’s survival during the Jewish holocaust. And believe me this one is as powerful as Schindler’s List.
STRONGLY recommend STRONGLY recommend these 4 books to you.
The next book I would recommend to you doesn’t exist yet. Or maybe it does exist, as fragmented jottings, which are waiting for a political, society-altering context! I could introduce the author to you though — Sunandini Basu, (Soo to friends) who blogs snippets from her life at inktales.blogspot.com.
Oh! Did I tell you all these (Maus, Persepolis and Inktales) are comics? No, not comics in the Archies, Mandrake or even Tintin sense of the word. Soo prefers calling them ‘graphic novels’. I don’t like that term ever since Sarnath Bannerjee wrote what his PR claimed was ‘India’s first graphic novel’ — which was graphic in the Soo sense as well graphic in the Shobha De sense too! (Hehe, notice Soo sense rhymes with nuisance? Only rhymes, ok?)
These are comics in the Scott McCloud (who has been called the Aristotle of comics) mould. Each one showcases not only the authors’ story-telling ability, with imaginative narratives; but also the authors’ innocent eye for detail; AND a talent to translate that into simple yet powerful visuals.
I had seen such a talent in Ry who researches maths but used to maintain a wonderful journal of his life at four.livejournal.com. Then one fine day, he decided he had had enough of sharing his life with the world and deleted all his posts. I guess what he missed was a political, society-altering context!
So I hope Soo gets the political, society-altering backdrop for her story soon!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that she is also the colleague who lent me those 4 books, and this post is not a quid pro quo for that! It’s her birthday today :)