11 May 2011

Book Review: Nylon Road

Title: Nylon Road
Author: Parsua Bashi
Publisher/Year: St. Martin's Griffin / 2009
Date Finished: 23 April 2011
Source/Format: School / Print

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: Graphic Novel Challenge

Parsua Bashi explores her life growing up in Iran through staged discussions with herself at various ages. The entire narrative is told through a flashback, revealing particular events in Bashi's life which may not have formed her but do define her. I love this set-up. The older I get the more I want to talk to my past selves. My opinions, held so tightly when I was 16, seem naive now that I am 31. Bashi with love and forgiveness argues with her younger selves, challenges their thinking while simultaneously feeling nostalgic for those versions of herself which have passed.

While Islamic Iranian culture is explored, the primary focus remains on Bashi, an internal exploration of her world through her eyes. I really appreciated this personalization as too often memoirs can stray a bit too far into cultural analysis without acknowledging the subjective bias inherent in a "memoir".

As so many reviews of this graphic memoir mention, no comments on Nylon Road are complete without a comparison to Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, a graphic memoir about growing up in Iran (all hail the similarity). Most reviews will tell you that Persepolis is "better" than Nylon Road; I am neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Satrapi's memoir is certainly more historical and epic and the such not, but that is exactly why I feel it disingenuous to place to important a value on comparing the two. Just because they are both memoirs about girls growing up in Iran does not mean they should be judged against each other. I think it sufficient to say that they are both good.

Moving away from the narrative to the images, grays, tans, and white are the only colors used, and I am curious to know why. What is it about this color scheme that appealed to Bashi? And why does it appeal to me? At this point, I don't really have any answers.

In my quest to make my professional life as difficult as possible, I am once again changing all of the books for my Introduction to Literature course. Why can't I read the same five books from year to year and save myself a great deal of time and energy? So many books, so little time I guess. Bashi's graphic memoir has made the cut along with The White Album by Joan Didion, Black American Short Stories, and Logicomix by Doxiadis and Papadimitriou. I've decided to let students choose their own novel. Heaven help me!


  1. I wished my professors would let me choose my own novel. Just once and I would die a happy college student. Nylon Road sounds okay but I love Persepolis too much to even give it a try. Isn't that horrible?

    What did you think of Logicomix? I loved learning about Russell's personal life more than any other parts of the story.

  2. That cover image is so bleak...she looks like the weight of the world is on her very unhappy shoulders.

  3. That is an amazing book list for your class -- can I take it? :)

  4. Many many teachers teach the same old, same old every darn time. You are definitely to be commended for not being lazy!

  5. Ok, I definitely need to read this. I love Persepolis, but before I even got to your mention of it, I thought I'd love to see another's perspective.

    I actually have an outside reading list (more contemporary) and allow students to choose. Got some interesting work out of it.

    It IS so hard to change everything up, but I usually find it's worth it.

  6. This is one of the graphic novels I bought for $1 in Portland! I haven't read your review yet because I want to read the book first...

  7. Vasilly - I'm halfway through Logicomix and really enjoying it so far. And the life story definitely trumps the mathy/logic stuff for me so far.

    Jill - LOL! I didn't think about it but you are right. Oddly though the story isn't that bleak.

    Kim - Absolutely! :)

    Jill - Thanks! I do have a problem with teachers who never vary their lesson plans; I think it breeds lazy thinking and hence bad teaching.

    Picky Girl - I thought about making a list of novels - and I might still do that - but then again there is something to be said for keeping the door entirely open.

    Avis - I always recommend reading the book before the review so I understand completely!

  8. I think it's neat that you sometimes change it up with the books you read for your classes. Too many professors like to rely on the same tried and true books over and over again.

    I was actually thinking of Persepolis when I was reading this review, and was surprised to find that your thoughts went in the same direction. It sounds like a book that is well worth a read!

  9. I'm salivating over the list for your class. Seriously. Awesome!!! I wanna be a student again!

  10. HA! I had a semester where I changed all of the books, seriously. I just wanted to do the other books more, and that's all that mattered to me.

    So I understand is what I'm saying.


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