I love memoirs, and I generally prefer non-fiction to fiction. I bought this audiobook because I wanted to learn more about Iran, and because it got some glowing customer reviews. I made it through about 8 hours and have now given up on it. My personal complaints: The narrative is not presented in a linear fashion, it jumps around in time and place; the bits about life in Iran are very interesting, but frustratingly buried between lengthy high-school-lecture type analyses of various works of fiction; and I know this is petty, but I found the narrator's voice to be very unpleasant. She does something with her Rs that grates me like nails on a chalkboard. I have read and enjoyed a number of the books Nafisi discusses, but that didn't help me enjoy this book.
If you enjoyed your high school English classes, have a good imagination, and don't mind plots that jump around through time and place, you may well like this book, but it's not for everyone.
This audiobook is a wonderful piece of literature. It combines biography, history, literary criticism, social criticism/analysis all into a single package. Some listeners may find the movement from one topic to another alittle disconcerting. I did not. It seems to drive the book, & helps avoid getting bogged down in a single line-of-argument. The reader is also excellent.
This book was my fifteen year old son's summer reading book for 10th grade. My son HATES to read, so I bought it on Audible thinking it might be easier for him. I had heard of this book before and the description of it sounded wonderful, so I decided to listen to it as well. I sent my son to his room with my Kindle, and I began listening on my phone. Of course I made much faster progress than he did, and it wasn't long before I realized the school had made some sort of mistake.
I love books, and think all books have some relevance. I am not the sort of mother who tries to guard my son from every evil in the world, and I certainly think it's important for him to understand the oppression women have, and continue to face in countries such as Iran. Having said that, there are some very adult themes in this book that some parents and students may find unpleasant.
Within the first couple of hours Azar Nafisi talks about the discussion she and some of her female students have about the book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. She gives a brief description and then some longer examples of the storyline. In doing so she talks about the imprisonment and rape of a 13 year old girl (Lolita) by a 39 year old man (Humbert Humbert). As I was listening to this I was captivated by the narration, then it dawned on me: My 15 year old son will read this. I began to get a little nervous, but I thought of how I would explain it to him. I thought I would say, we have no basis of comparison to this story, no compartment to put this in in our minds. But women in Iran could understand this story in a way we can't. They live in a world where an old man can marry a girl as young as nine years old. And while it is legal in their country and illegal in the book, there are still correlations between the book and their everyday lives.
Then I came to the part that talks about some writings of the Ayatollah Khomeini, Supreme Leader of Iran from 1979 to 1989. I had read some excerpts of these writings before. They deal with religious laws and instructions. The part that Nafisi relates is a part I was previously unaware of. It suggests that a man might use a farm animal for certain things, but raises the religious and moral question of whether the man can then eat the animal. The account in the book is very descriptive and mentions the use of chickens specifically. This is disgusting, but, as an adult, I can handle it. I again thought of my 15 year old son reading this and not having the life experience or emotional maturity to handle such things.
I immediately sent an email to my son's English teacher expressing my concerns. I asked if she could explain to me how they would handle such topics in a classroom setting. I did this because I knew the book was picked by a committee of school administrators and that she probably had nothing to do with it. She met with me and explained that the first time she read the book was a couple of weeks before the start of school. She had been just as shocked when she had come across the same things in the book and said that she was going to skip any mention of those two parts if at all possible. There had only been a couple of other parents that had come forward to question the choice of this book, but that was enough for her to get permission from the school to let as many students as wanted to use another book as their reading project.
I know this is long winded, so I will end with this. I was truly moved, not only by the story of the struggles of women in Iran, but also by Azar Nafisi's profound love of words. Because she loves them so much she is able to take those words and bend and shape them into a vibrant description of her life and experiences. This book is well worth reading if you are an adult.
3 stars, maybe 3.5 if I'm being generous. 3.5 or 3.75 for the narration, which may have sounded so pedantic simply because of the text she was reading. The concept of the book was great (a memoir in books -- telling this woman's story of her experiences (and those of some of her female students) before, during and mainly after the revolution in Iran by comparing their experiences and living in Iran and the regime in general to the themes and characters in great novels in literature), but unfortunately the execution was flawed. The author is a literature professor, and she could not get out of that role as an author. The book felt more like a critical essay by an academic than a memoir or a story. She was so often "teaching" the reader, that it became tiresome and made her sound like she cared more about the sound of her own voice than the reader's experience. I'm sure many people like this book because of the unique perspective on classic novels and life in Iran post-revolution, but all of that was overshadowed for me by the presentation of that perspective. For that reason, I can't say whether I recommend it or not; it depends on what you like to read.
What an impact!.
Nothing comparable...One of a kind.
Great narration...well spoken.
For every woman who ever thought they couldn't overcome a situation. I both laughed and cried...truly unbelievable.
A book for every American woman to either read or listen to. It is deep and intense but we'll spoken. I definite life lesson. A knowledge of historical fiction...the great Gatsby...etc. is a definite bonus but not necessary.
I tried reading this book long ago and could never finish. Somehow I thought having it read to me would make a difference
It was too self-involved and truly not "about" her girls.
Her performance was fine ~ she needs a better, less self-righteous story to read.
Most of the scenes about the author and demanded more about "her girls!"
The first few chapters were very misleading. It was not a story about the girls who came to her house to read ~ nor was it about Lolita. Additionally, how can anyone find anything good about Lolita's relationship with "captor?"
The single voice used in this recording is difficult to keep focussed on. I often lost track of where I was in the story and also found it repetitive.
Linda in Omaha
I've always viewed life in mid-eastern countries as mysterious. This writer clearly describes life in Iran under different regimes. Day to day life is shown to be both normal and terrible. It makes me absolutely sure that I do not want the USA ever to be under Islamic rule. We should treasure our freedom, and fight for it above all else. We should guard our freedom of speech so we don't have to worry about being imprisoned or worse for expressing an opinion. I'm surprised the author and her family survived intact and ultimately came to the US to live. This should be required reading in our high schools.
This is a very interesting book written by a Tehran University professor about her life during the years following the Islamic Revolution in Iran and her reflection on those years later in her life. It is an intriguing tale of an tumultuous period of history, though sometimes the story does get a bit dry. The narrator is Persian and it helps with the feeling of the book because she has a beautiful accent and pronounces the Farsi words and names correctly.
The story would be more aptly titled "Teaching English Lit in Tehran". Far more academic and thoughtful (and not in a good way) than I was expecting. I was expecting something that would give deeper insights into the attitudes of Iranians, but it reads more like an outsider's observations of Iran.