I have read the author's previous books, which I often found too academic for really enjoyable reading. That happened here, too, to a lesser degree, which is why I've given it only four stars. Nevertheless, I did appreciate Nafisi's openness about her family and her upbringing. Her childhood and adolescence were very confusing times, both for her and for her country, and it requires the distance of some years to process what went into anyone's growth and development. Having lived in Iran, I do read a lot about the country, especially memoirs, because it confirms what I observed there: that happy families and unhappy families are very much alike around the globe. You cannot read this book and Not Without My Daughter, and think you know all about Iran and Iranians, any more than Americans should be judged by The Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby.
Azar Nafisi's book " Things I've Been Silent About" portrays a sad and somewhat tragic life filled with grief and melancholy. Family dynamics played an important role in her life. As a native of Iran, she was caught between her personal family ties and the oppressive Islamic regime. Iran's religious rules, dealing with marriage and family, provides little flexibility for close interpersonal relations with the opposite sex outside the family circle. Azar wrote extensively of loveless marriages, including her parents, and the dysfunctional environment surrounding them. Some people, at odds with the mores and folkways of the Islamic culture, simply vanished.
The psychological traumas of abuse that she experienced as a young child from trusted family friends, were mentioned as if they happened yesterday; however, she seems to have survived very well as her life took on a new meaning through her academic endeavors. She reminisces about Iran; its veritable history and culture and the impact religious leaders had on their daily lives. Iran was a nascent democracy before it evolved into an absolute monarchy and later an Islamic republic.
She fondly recalled the shops and streets she visited with her mother as a child and the names of vendors who gave her candy and goodies; all told with excitement and joy. These were the moments that made her life bearable, sustainable and unforgettable .
This book amplifies some perspectives about life's challenges in Iran. For some, things seem to work themselves out. Azar, disenchanted with Iran, bundled up her fears and apprehensions and relocated to another world.
Bruce E. McLeod, Jr. Las Vegas, Nevada 2 August 2013
A memoir, centered (like most memoirs probably) around the author's parents, both their public lives - very entwined in and representative of the history of Iran - and their private lives, no less so. Through the story of her family, going back several generations,the author recounts, and explains, the history of Iran and in telling her own story, she brings it up to date with the Islamic Revolution (I had not realized it was as violent as she paints it). In doing so she also goes into its culture, the unspoken assumptions and habits of all countries, the things that don't get talked about. I found it absorbing and interesting, reflective and insightful, although her relentless mother, a very talented but slightly disturbed woman, had me gritting my teeth.
Interesting and deeply personal account of a woman growing up in Iran with the support and love of her father, a troubled and conflict filled relationship with her mother and the burdens of growing up female is a state that deprives women of opportunity and dignity.
I really wanted to like this book, but it quickly became the book I read before bed (because it was pretty boring and made me sleepy). It's about a super interesting time in history and the author has definitely lead a super interesting life, but her storytelling just falls flat, in my opinion. I did finish the book and I'm thankful for all the nights it helped me fall asleep!
Having read and enjoyed "Reading Lolita in Tehran" I was happy to see another title by Azar Nafisi. In "Things I Have Been Silent About" Nafisi's account of the changes leading up to and including the "cultural revolution" in Iran was instructive to the situation there today. Nafisi writes of her influential but dysfunctional family and their experiences coping with one another and with the changes in the political and social life of all Iranians. This book adds a glimpse of real life into what might otherwise be seen an impersonal newspaper headline. As an American it is difficult to comprehend what it must be like to have one's country overtaken and a way of life rescinded by an extremist regime without the power to stop it. This reads like a modern cautionary tale about extreme political ideology in a real world situation.
Being a memoir of a woman who grew up in the Mid-Eastern culture, and tumultuous times, I had anticipated an interesting story. It "drags"--hard to get into the life and times of the young girl--she needs a "ghost writer"--perhaps she is too close emotionally to the circumstances to keep the story "moving" and holding the reader's interest.
This is a wonderful book. I am glad I read it and certainly have a much better understanding of the "average" person in Iran. I detest what the Iranian government is doing to its citizens and hope, someday, a democracy will develop.