Ramita Navai gives voice to ordinary Iranians forced to live extraordinary lives: the porn star, the aging socialite, the assassin and enemy of the state who ends up working for the Republic, the dutiful housewife who files for divorce, and the old-time thug running a gambling den.
In today's Tehran, intrigues abound and survival depends on an intricate network of falsehoods: mullahs visit prostitutes, local mosques train barely pubescent boys in crowd-control tactics, and cosmetic surgeons promise to restore girls' virginity. Navai paints an intimate portrait of those discreet recesses in a city where the difference between modesty and profanity, loyalty and betrayal, honor and disgrace is often no more than the believability of a lie.
©2014 Ramita Navai (P)2014 Tantor
I loved the journalistic edge of each of Navai's stories. Each vignette shined a light on a corner of Tehran revealing the truth behind each character's circumstances. Not unlike American society, wealth, gender and birthright play a staring role in determining ones options in Iran. Where few options remain, character's resort to the most primal druthers of death, sex and lies. A city divided by its differences is ultimately connected geographically and metaphorically by Valiasr Street a symbol of common struggle of a culture transformed in just one generation by religion and politics. Overall, the author brilliantly unveils a culture, its people, and its evolution in a sea of one note descriptions of a city, country, and region.
Say something about yourself!
I did not know what to expect when I selected this book, but I am glad I did. Navai gives us a glimpse of life into modern day Teheran and it is an ugly picture indeed. Decades ago, Eric Hoffer wrote the "True Believer" an examination of extreme regimes and how they are born and survive - if Hoffer were alive to update the book, modern Iran would easily fit in with little revision.
Not all of Navai's characters are helpless pawns or innocent victims, but all suffer at the hands of the regime. The story reinforces my distrust of organized religion.
Lisle's narration is flawless and contributes greatly with a five star rating. I finished the book in two days and found it impossible to put down.
Because I lived in Isfahan, Iran for 3 years right up to the Iranian revolution and the ouster of the shah, I was especially intrigued by this book. We've all seen and heard of the changes in Iran since the revolution, from the taking of the embassy hostages and on through the recent presidential election and likely assumed that many of the things that go on in the West, both good and bad, don't happen in a regime that touts itself of being Islamic. This book tells us that all of it does go on, both good and bad, with the added element of government repression. Thank you, Ms. Navai, for giving us an insider's view of life in Teheran.
Well researched excellent detailed to a point of painful reality. The fact of the matter that there is a big disconnect from north of Tehran and South like Shoosh and stories are painfully hits home. Well done. Thanks
The author did a nice job describing the lives of various people living in Tehran and in the process explained the rationale of many of the muslim customs. The book is interesting & informative.
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