As part of the College’s sixth annual Community Learning Day, author Marjane Satrapi came to the College to discuss one of her books, “Persepolis,” which was this year’s freshman summer reading book.
While the program was meant to involve a lecture on the book itself and Satrapi’s native country, Iran, it focused on the author’s views of the media, the government and the prejudices that each country holds for the foreign nations around it.
“I first came to the United States to find out why I was supposed to hate this country,” Satrapi said. She said that while growing up, she was conditioned to believe that the United States was “evil.” After arriving here, she realized that most of the harsh stereotypes placed on the country were untrue.
The lecture became heated after Satrapi compared the United States government with Iran’s. “I don’t think that they are opposite at all. I think they are the same,” she said.
She supported her statement by saying that both governments concentrate on the fight against evil and each government believes it is in the right.
When audience members were given to opportunity to speak and ask questions, Matt Esposito, senior secondary education/history major and chairman of the College Republicans, asked Satrapi to elaborate on her claim that “the American government is shit.”
“I never said the government was shit, but if you use that word, it’s not very far from what I think,” Satrapi said.
During the lecture, Satrapi did address “Persepolis” and the reason she wrote the book: to clarify the false impressions people have about Iran. She said she felt that the way Iran was portrayed on television and in newspapers didn’t correspond with the life she had there.
“I once got asked how many wives my father had. Did I ride a camel? Did my parents beat me?” Satrapi said. “That wasn’t how my life was.”
Satrapi said using the comic-book style in her book was the best way to keep people interested while adding humor to an otherwise serious subject.
“I used my personal story to tell an even bigger story,” Satrapi said. “I chose moments to portray in my book that people could relate to.”
Students said they came out of the program with mixed opinions of Satrapi’s lecture.
“I thought what she had to say was fascinating,” Max Marshall, freshman international studies major, said. “She gave life and perspective to an already enlightening novel.”
Esposito was not as impressed. “Her comments (about the American government) proved she is definitely out of touch with reality,” he said.