Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Women write about the Iran they know

Carol Memmott, USA TODAY:
Women of Iranian descent don't want us to believe everything we see on TV, and they are taking to the bookshelves to make sure we don't. Afschineh Latifi, author of Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran, says that anti-Western female protestors are a small minority in Iran.

Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran by Afschineh Latifi (ReganBooks, $24.95) arrives in bookstores Tuesday and is the latest in a growing number of such memoirs.

"It's interesting to see footage of women in Iran dressed in black chadors chanting anti-American or anti-West slogans. Those are not the Iranians I know," Latifi says. "They are a small minority." READ MORE
It's a theme pioneered in 2003 by Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, which has been on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list for the past 64 weeks.Nafisi, then a professor in Tehran, recounts how for two years before she left Iran in 1997, she gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. The movie rights have been optioned.

"It's not enough to watch the news or to hear about the Islamic world within the context of Islamic terrorists," Nafisi says. "Unfortunately, sometimes horrible things have to happen for us to realize we need genuine knowledge about other people."

Latifi, 39, now a lawyer in New York, left Iran in 1982, three years after her father, a colonel under the Shah of Iran, was executed by the Khomeini regime.

Aside from debunking Iranian stereotypes, Even After All This Time tracks the struggles that she and her family had in creating a new life in the USA.

The purpose of the new crop of books, she says, is to give American readers a more comprehensive view of Iranians. "We are trying to bridge the gap between what Americans think here and the misconceptions they have about Iranians, here and in Iran."

MSNBC has a more on this story.