With two critically acclaimed graphic novels in the bag, Marjane Satrapi’s follow up to Persepolis and its sequel has been eagerly awaited. Embroideries is an afternoon spent in the company of an all-female group of family, friends and neighbours, as they engage in a fascinating and free-ranging discussion on human love and sexuality. That the group are Iranian is almost of no consequence – the tales that Satrapi’s characters tell are universal and from the heart, with only a few cultural references (including the embroidering that the book’s title refers to) to give away the characters’ physical location.
The book is a beautiful piece of work, following its characters back into the stories they share of their own loves, be they conquests or failures. The conversation is so intimate and honest sounding that this male reader felt almost guilty for listening in to such frank discussion. Satrapi’s characters speak naturally and uninhibitedly about subjects that probably wouldn’t be discussed in public at volume in the most liberal of settings.
Satrapi’s drawings are simple, rarely featuring much background beyond any furniture that’s in direct use by her characters. However, they don’t need it – it helps to remind us that the physical background is virtually meaningless and that these women are faced with essentially the same sexual needs, trials and joys as women the world over.
It’s a wonderful, gently dramatic collection of interacting character studies, which will appeal to anyone interested in the human condition, especially as it relates to women and sex. A fascinating insight into a world that, at least to the eyes of this European man, would otherwise remain shrouded in mystery.
Other titles by Marjane Satrapi: