Oct 25, 2009

Book Review: Persian Girls by Nahid Rachlin

Persian Girls: A Memoir

Persian Girls: A Memoir by Nahid Rachlin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This memoir tells the poignant story of two Iranian sisters, Maryam and Mohtaram, of their daughter, the author Nahid Rachlin, and of Nahid's sisters, Pari and Manijeh, all Persian girls living in Iran in the time of the Shah. It is also a moving story of the sisters' love and loyalty in the face of family betrayal and loss, and the precarious lives of women living under strict tradition in a male dominated society.

I read this excellent memoir in two sittings. The writing is fluid and compelling and easily takes you into the author's life in Iran and into the lives of her two families - her adoptive mother Maryam and her biological mother, Mohtaram, two sisters.

It is also about Nahid's personal struggle with her life with her biological parents after she was removed from her adoptive mother's care in Tehran at age nine and returned to her parents' home. Nahid had been raised by her childless aunt Maryam since she was six months old and the shock of suddenly been taken away from Maryam by her father seemed to her like a cruel abduction. How she fights to resolve this and to lead her own independent life is the major subject of this book.

This moving story reveals the plight of women without a voice of their own in family or in public life, as well as the difficulty of living in Iran during the time, for both men and women. I recommend the memoir for those interested in women, women's rights, Iranian history, and the growth and development of a writer.

Nahid Rachlin is author of the novels Jumping over Fire, Foreigner, Married to a Stranger, The Heart's Desire, and a collection of short stories. She is an associate fellow at Yale and also teaches at the New School and the Unterberg Poetry Center in New York.

Thanks to the the Penguin Group for a review copy of this book.

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Derek Emerson said...

Sounds like a great book -- everything I've read by Rachlin has been outstanding. Great blog!

Staci said...

I'm always looking for fascinating books like these to read!!

Terra said...

I will look for this book since it sounds excellent.
I have a dear friend who was born in Iran, plus that is a fascinating part of the world. I did enjoy Reading Lolita in Tehran.

Suzanne Yester said...

Sounds like a wonderful read! I love memoirs, and the setting the story is set in is such an interesting place. With the fictional stories such as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, it's nice that a piece of non-fiction such as this can be read! Thanks for sharing this!


Anonymous said...

Sounds very good, I think I'll put it on my wish list.

Harvee said...

Derek: Thanks for the comments. I hope to read more of her books.

Staci, Terra, Vicki, Suzanne: I really enjoyed reading the memoir. I think you would like it as well.

Charlie said...

I too enjoyed Reading Lolita in Tehran, as well as The Bookseller's Daughter about women in Afghanistan. I will, then, read this memoir; I happen to be a male feminist.

Harvee said...

Charlie: Great! Will look forward to your comments!

Unknown said...

That definitely looks like an interesting book. Thanks for pointing me over here to read your review.

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