The New York Times Book Review for Sunday, May 11 included a full-page review of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis graphic novel (Pantheon, $17.95). Reviewer Fernanda Eberstadt, author of The Furies, compares Persepolis to Art Spiegelman's Maus in its combination of 'political history and memoir.' The story of a young girl growing up in a radicalized bourgeois household in Tehran during the tempestuous decade that saw the fall of the Shah and the brutal war with Iraq, Persepolis offers an interesting view of a country that is much more than just a land 'of fanatics and terrorists.'
Though no longer rare, reviews of graphic novels in the New York Times Book Review still help legitimize the format in the minds of America's educated classes, who have been much slower to accept graphic novels than their counterparts in Europe and Japan. Retailers who have had success with books by Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, Dan Clowes, and Los Bros. should take advantage of this highly positive full-page review by mounting it on cardboard and placing it in a window display or in a prominent inside location. Traditional bookstore owners know that major reviews in the New York Times Book Review translate into sales. If the increasing number and importance of graphic novels is turning the traditional comic shop into something that more closely resembles a bookstore, then pop culture retailers should take their cue from the kind of in-store marketing that has worked for decades in mainstream bookstores.