For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development



The Free Library of Philadelphia caps off eight inspired weeks of performances, discussions, and feasts; honors Iranian art and culture with the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra

PHILADELPHIA, March 17, 2010—The eighth season of One Book, One Philadelphia drew to an end on Wednesday, March 17, and the Free Library of Philadelphia celebrated the success with a special evening of music at the Parkway Central Library at 7:30 p.m.

Cosponsored by the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the free event highlighted and honored the Golha, a series of radio programs introduced in Iran in 1956. Each week on the Golha, the foremost Iranian musicians, vocalists, literary critics, poets, and radio announcers were invited to perform a selection of the best modern and classical music and poetry. The Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra and Intercultural Journeys, along with local authors, poets, and musicians, took to the stage to celebrate Iran’s rich cultural and artistic heritage, as well as this year’s featured reading selection, Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis. Through a unique live recreation of a Golha radio program, the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra provided a cultural context for Satrapi’s childhood experiences.

At the center of this year’s One Book program was Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir account of her childhood and adolescence in Iran during the tumultuous years following the overthrow of the Shah and the establishment of the Islamic Republic. The coming-of-age story highlights the contradictions between private and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high-school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. At once heartbreaking and heartwarming, this candid memoir brings history to life and provides a timely perspective on the background and context of the current struggle unfolding in Iran.

One Book kicked off two months ago on January 20, when hundreds of Philadelphians gathered at the Parkway Central Library for a Persian musical performance by Intercultural Journeys, a special video greeting from author Satrapi, and a screening of the acclaimed film adaptation of The Complete Persepolis. The closing event again featured members of Intercultural Journeys, including Udi Bar-David, Kazem Davoudian, and Negin Moshtagh, along with Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra founder Jeri Lynne Johnson, poet and recording artist Ursula Rucker, and author Homa Tavangar.

“During the past eight weeks, our community partners and library staff have generously contributed their time and talents in support of the One Book project, producing more than 150 stimulating programs hosted by the Free Library and community organizations, thereby expanding and enriching the public’s reading of The Complete Persepolis,” commented One Book Chairperson Marie Field. “Events have included book and film discussions; panel discussions on the intersection of politics and religion; historical presentations; sermons and psychological explorations on the nature of conflict; musical and ballet performances; comic and graphic storytelling workshops; Persian craft workshops; Persian cooking demonstrations and feasts.”

One of the many highlights included a presentation on the U.S.-Iran relationship, cosponsored by the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Author Stephen Kinzer (All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of the Middle East Terror) and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin led a discussion on U.S. foreign relations with Iran and the role they played in creating the current relationship between the two countries.

The 2010 program had something of interest for everyone—two companion books for young readers and teenagers were also a part of the program. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís was recommended for children and family reading, and Persepolis 1: The Story of a Childhood¬—part one of Satrapi’s original two-volume series—was recommended for teens.

“It is truly inspiring to watch as One Book, One Philadelphia sparks a high level of community engagement year after year,” said Free Library of Philadelphia President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon, who will open the March 17 event and speak about the importance of the program. “Philadelphians from all over the region united to discuss meaningful social issues—such as political, cultural, and religious differences—portrayed in The Complete Persepolis, and the timely selection and related programming have provided a rich perspective on the current situation Iran.”

This year’s primary sponsors included PECO, the Lenfest Foundation, and the North American Beverage Company, as well as two anonymous donors. Additional One Book support came from the Verizon Foundation; Stradley Ronon Stevens and Young, LLP; 1706 Rittenhouse Square; Pepper Hamilton, LLP; The Hassel Foundation; the Cassett Foundation; McCarter and English, LLP; the Sloane Foundation; Kathy and Paul Addis; Susan and Bart Winokur; and Jeanette and Herbert Evert. One Book media partners include WHYY, Philadelphia City Paper, Philebrity, Harmelin Media, and Keystone Outdoor.

About the Author
Marjane Satrapi was born in Rasht, Iran, and now lives in Paris, where she is a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers across the globe, including the New Yorker and the New York Times. She is the author of Embroideries, Chicken with Plums, and several children's books. Satrapi's autobiographical account of her childhood during and after the Islamic Revolution was first published in France, where it was met with enormous critical acclaim, garnered comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, and won several prestigious graphic novel awards. She co-wrote and co-directed the animated feature film adaption of Persepolis.

About One Book, One Philadelphia
Founded in 2003 by the Free Library and the Mayor’s Office, One Book motivates tens of thousands of people to read the featured selection and participate in discussions, events, workshops, classes, and more. All Free Library locations have copies of The Complete Persepolis, as well as the two companion books, Persepolis 1: The Story of a Childhood and The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, free to be borrowed with a Library card. One Book, One Philadelphia runs from January 20 through March 17, 2010. For related resources, event listings, and recommended reading, visit

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850