Things Ive Been Silent About by Azar NafisiI started making a list in my diary entitled Things I Have Been Silent About. Under it I wrote: “Falling in Love in Tehran. Going to Parties in Tehran. Watching the Marx Brothers in Tehran. Reading Lolita in Tehran. I wrote about repressive laws and executions, about public and political abominations. Eventually I drifted into writing about private betrayals, implicating myself and those close to me in ways I had never imagined.--From Things I Have Been Silent About
Azar Nafisi, author of the beloved international bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran, now gives us a stunning personal story of growing up in Iran, memories of her life lived in thrall to a powerful and complex mother, against the background of a country’s political revolution. A girl’s pain over family secrets; a young woman’s discovery of the power of sensuality in literature; the price a family pays for freedom in a country beset by political upheaval–these and other threads are woven together in this beautiful memoir, as a gifted storyteller once again transforms the way we see the world and “reminds us of why we read in the first place” (Newsday).
Nafisi’s intelligent and complicated mother, disappointed in her dreams of leading an important and romantic life, created mesmerizing fictions about herself, her family, and her past. But her daughter soon learned that these narratives of triumph hid as much as they revealed. Nafisi’s father escaped into narratives of another kind, enchanting his children with the classic tales like the Shahnamah, the Persian Book of Kings. When her father started seeing other women, young Azar began to keep his secrets from her mother. Nafisi’s complicity in these childhood dramas ultimately led her to resist remaining silent about other personal, as well as political, cultural, and social, injustices.
Reaching back in time to reflect on other generations in the Nafisi family, Things I’ve Been Silent About is also a powerful historical portrait of a family that spans many periods of change leading up to the Islamic Revolution of 1978-79, which turned Azar Nafisi’s beloved Iran into a religious dictatorship. Writing of her mother’s historic term in Parliament, even while her father, once mayor of Tehran, was in jail, Nafisi explores the remarkable “coffee hours” her mother presided over, where at first women came together to gossip, to tell fortunes, and to give silent acknowledgment of things never spoken about, and which then evolved into gatherings where men and women would meet to openly discuss the unfolding revolution.
Things I’ve Been Silent About is, finally, a deeply personal reflection on women’s choices, and on how Azar Nafisi found the inspiration for a different kind of life. This unforgettable portrait of a woman, a family, and a troubled homeland is a stunning book that readers will embrace, a new triumph from an author who is a modern master of the memoir.
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But her daughter soon learned that these narratives of triumph hid as much as they revealed. When her father started seeing other women, young Azar began to keep his secrets from her mother. This unforgettable portrait of a woman, a family, and a troubled homeland is a stunning book that readers will embrace, a new triumph from an author who is a modern master of the memoir. She has a way of revealing the silences—both personal and political—that are as astute as they are sorrowful. She writes about the mutual plunderings and betrayals that are uniquely her own and yet resonate for all of us.
I have often asked myself how much of my mother's account of her meeting with her first husband was a figment of her imagination. If not for the photographs, I would have doubted that he had ever existed. A friend once talked of my mother's "admirable resistance to the unwanted," and since, for her, so much in life was unwanted, she invented stories about herself that she came to believe with such conviction that we started doubting our own certainties. In her mind their courtship began with a dance. It seemed more likely to me that his parents would have asked her father for her hand, a marriage of convenience between two prominent families, as had been the convention in Tehran in the s. But over the years she never changed this story, the way she did so many of her other accounts. She had met him at her uncle's wedding.
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That memoir wove her personal stories with those of her former students, using as a touchstone their two years of shared experiences in a reading group at her home focused on banned authors like Nabokov and Fitzgerald. - Look Inside Reading Guide.
Early in Azar Nafisi's memoir, she discovers that her father's autobiography has been shorn, for publication, of all intimate revelation. All that remains is an edited account of a public life. The title of her her own dense, elliptical set of reminiscences suggests the sort of confession that makes the family memoir so piquant and popular a genre. And given that the literary reticence of Iranian women has been the subject of entire volumes, Nafisi is probably courageous in her choice of what she reveals. However, to the reader brought up on confessional literature, this account by the US-based Iranian writer will probably seem discreet. It interleaves histories of the self and the world in the manner of a narrator handpicked to represent a culture and its political and religious undertow in the guise of a life story.
Rate this book. Azar Nafisi, author of the beloved international bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran , now gives us a stunning personal story of growing up in a family in Iran, moving memories of her life lived in thrall to a powerful and difficult mother, against the background of Iran during a time of revolution and change. As she talked to her children, she would disappear into these family stories, narratives of triumph that hid as much as they revealed. As her father began a series of love affairs, his daughter began to lie to her mother about her father's infidelities, and about other events women were supposed to be silent about. Nafisi's complicity in these childhood dramas ultimately led her to resist remaining silent about political, cultural, social, and personal injustices.