The Banning of Persepolis Has Inspired Its Own Graphic Nonfiction Book

From Book Riot:

While book banning and censorship attempts in the U.S. have been at an unprecedented high in the last two years, they’re also not new. In 2013, library science graduate student Jarrett Dapier filed a Freedom of Information Act request that made public the Chicago Public School district’s attempt to quietly remove Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi from school libraries and classrooms.

Persepolis is a highly acclaimed graphic memoir of the author’s life growing up in Iran, and the emails showed that the title had been removed from schools without following the formal process for challenging a book.

News of the banning caused a public outcry, especially after Dapier brought his finding to the news and the ALA. The ALA later awarded Dapier the John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award for “defending the principles of intellectual freedom.”

Now, Dapier is turning this story into its own graphic nonfiction work called Wake Now In The Fire. It’s illustrated by AJ Dungo and follows a group of Chicago high school students who fight back against the attempts at censorship in their own school. It will be published in Fall 2023 by Chronicle Books.

Link to the rest at Book Riot

6 thoughts on “The Banning of Persepolis Has Inspired Its Own Graphic Nonfiction Book”

  1. A book that is highly critical of the theocratic tyranny in Iran. Being “quietly removed” in 2013, just as the negotiations for the JCPOA were getting underway. In the Chicago school system.

    Interesting “coincidences”…

    • I read Persepolis 1 & 2, and the Guardian article made me flip through the first one again. Satrapi subtitles book 1 as “The Story of a Childhood,” which puts the story in perspective. In the Guardian article the schools were claiming she uses photos of torture, but the book doesn’t use photos to start with. It’s a graphic novel with simplified black and white drawings. The scene they’re talking about is so simply drawn it takes the sting out of what’s happening.

      Satrapi has a point about television. She depicts herself as shocked to learn a clothes iron can be used to harm someone. I would have been shocked at her age, too, had I not seen the “Good Times” episode where Penny’s mom uses the iron on her. Series takes place in Chicago, is it banned there? I doubt it 😉

      So I guess your hypothesis is as good as any as to why the book was removed.

      • My suspicion is that someone had seen/complained about the animated film adaptation — nominated for an Oscar and won lots of other awards — and a bureaucrat assumed that what appears in the film also necessarily appears in the graphic-novel version.

        There’s material in the film well beyond that in the graphic novels.

        Nobody got as far as Reading Lolita in Tehran, or Journey From the Land of No, or Assassins of the Turquoise Palace

        • I never saw the movie, but that makes sense. It was probably too much to ask for the school officials to actually read the book before making a decision about it.

          • What’s even more likely is that it was the complainant(s) who did so. One of the problems with local school boards is that if the “right” (loud, obnoxious, and obviously unwilling to compromise, using the right code words to indicate that enough “community leaders” will inevitably agree) complainants do something formal that the local school board has to put into the “open records”* system that allows exploitation at the next election, the board tends to cave. Whether this is “conflict avoidance” or something else is for another time. In a few of those districts, it’s virtually certain that’s what happened…

            For those who don’t know, Chicago and its region has a particularly Balkanized means of “governing” its school systems. Leaving aside that Shelley v. Kraemer eyebrows would be raised at some of the boundary-drawing (not to mention Baker v. Selden), “primary schools” and “high schools” are ordinarily separate districts, with separate governance structures. And then there’s the dubious innovation of the “local school council,” a building-by-building board system that can’t fire the principal but can do just about everything short of it. And as bad as it is within Chicago and Cook County, it gets worse as the rot spreads to the rest of the region…

            * In general, I’m all in favor of “open records” laws, because governance of any kind done solely in smoke-filled rooms (or Zoom meetings whose recordings are “damaged and unrecoverable” these days) is seldom in the public interest — and virtually never in the interest of those other than well-established, self-annointed community leaders. (Too often literally “annointed” — in American politics, it almost always means leaders in the religious community demanding conformity.) Local school boards — and elected prosecutors, health boards, and anything else where there’s an intersection of “elected” and “professional judgment” — are frequently a failure point because they invite sophisticated political methodology in fields whose training and licensure methods deny the primacy of mere majority opinion. It’s a structural problem that just adds to the fun… as we’ve seen rather graphically regarding COVID responses, and saw in the schools rather graphically in Santa Fe Ind. Sch. Dist..

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