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Persian Girls: A Memoir Paperback – Bargain Price, December 27, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (December 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585426237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585426232
  • ASIN: B001G8WO22
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,669,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This lyrical and disturbing memoir by the author of four novels (Foreigner, etc.) tells the story of an Iranian girl growing up in a culture where, despite the Westernizing reforms of the Shah, women had little power or autonomy. As an infant in 1946, Rachlin was given to her mother's favorite sister, a widow who had been unable to conceive, and was lovingly raised among supportive widows who took refuge in religion from their frustrations as women in an oppressive society. But at the age of nine, Rachlin's father, whom she barely knew, met her at school without warning and brought her to Ahvaz to live with her birth family. Miserable in the new household, young Nahid was befriended by her American movie–obsessed sister Pari. Both sisters developed artistic ambitions, but only Nahid managed to escape the typical female fate, convincing her father to send her to college in the U.S. Less lucky is Pari, whose life of arranged marriage, divorce from an abusive husband and estrangement from her son ends in depression and early death. Exuding the melancholy of an outsider, this memoir gives American readers rare insight into Iranians' ambivalence toward the United States, the desire for American freedom clashing with resentment of American hegemony. (Oct. 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Nahid's life plays out against a backdrop of tragedy. She has escaped to America, but she's lost so much of what she loved...the author doesn't comment directly on the meaning of these events. She just tells the tales of individuals crushed. This is just a story of how it was, during a certain period of time, for one upper-middle-class family in Iran, destroyed from within and without by forces it couldn't begin to reckon with. -- Carolyn See, The Washington Post --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The simplicity of the prose belies the complexity of the story.
Loves the View
It also gives the reader insight on the Muslim culture as well as a historical perspective of Iran.
Angela Harris
I applaud Nahid Rachlin, and thank her for sharing her life experiences with us.
Saharnaz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By J. A Carty on October 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read "Persian Girls" very quickly. I think this was in large part due to the simplicity, yet power, of the writing. The only complaint I have with the memoir is that at times it felt that there was something under the surface that the author still could not say about her relationships with the women in her life. There is a feeling of non-resolution, but--strangely enough--I also felt the author was comfortable with that ambiguity.

I think all women should read this book, especially women in America. I already knew a good bit about the repression of women in other countries but the simple, straightforward matter in which Rachlin recounts her life is one that will be easy for anyone to read. Easy in the reading, but sad in the subject matter.

There is probably a lot that could be said about this memoir but for me--on a personal note--I came away wanting to know more about the Iranian women I have known throughout my life (my uncle married an Iranian woman) and what brought them to this country. Did they ever see their families after they left? How much of their culture do they still feel drawn to etc?

Nothing works like good non-fiction to get me thinking about myself and what I bring to the world.

Good read. (I read over the span of two flights, so I would suggest it for a plane read for sure!)
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Christine S. Gressick on April 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Well, Mrs. Rachlin has gained another fan.

I was just mesmerized with the weave of her writings, in "Persian Girls". A fascinating depiction of the life, culture and traditions in Iran as she experienced them, and how they related to and affected her family and friends.

I reccomend this book as a good read.

Thank you Nahid Rachlin...
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By I. Appleton on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
After chancing upon a diminuative author reading a startlingly gutsy memoir to a bookstore audience, I ordered and read for myself the courageous adventures of Ms. Rachlin. The author's uncompromising rebelliousness coupled with her intense love for a sister and an aunt fuels the book. Bejeweled with many Iranian cultural details, (foods, fabrics, flowers, fountains, families, etc.), lovingly and simply described and set at the menacing center of turbulent historical and individual events, Nahid Rachlin has forged a spare, luminous memoir of human sorrows and victories. I think other readers will wish, as I did, that the book was longer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mona on February 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a "must read." I have never read a more touching non-fiction book. The writing is superb and it is from the heart. I was not able to put the book down and anyone vaguely interested in the subject matter will come to the same conclusion.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Ross on January 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just finished Persian Girls. Once I was into it I couldn't stop reading. I cried all alone in my chair reading Bijan's beautiful, heartbreaking letter that Pari never got. My own words seem lost now, still in the thrall of this tale as I am --so writing a review is hard. What a wonderful person Bijan is or was! I can't stand the thought that he may no longer be alive. Its amazing what this author has accomplished with the story she tells of Iranian women in a single family. The story is so big and so timely and so tragic --an individual tragedy of the first order with world history in the background. Its an incredible book and everybody should be buying it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cookbookaddict on March 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For me, the most interesting thing about Rachlin's very interesting memoir was the incredible strength she showed in forging a life for herself that was so different from the culture she was born into in Iran and for which she had very little or no family support. It is a very personal tale of courage. Rachlin was given to an aunt to raise shortly after her birth and then wrenchingly, for both Rachlin and her aunt, taken away from her when she was about 8. I suspect it was this horrible experience that later gave Rachlin the courage to leave her family to attend college on a scholarship in the United States and to live an independent, solitary and self-sufficient existence in the United States for awhile before she met her husband.

If I am at all disappointed with this book it is because of the emphasis Rachlin places on arranged marriages as the cause of unhappiness in women in the culture she was born into. Rachlin's sister was in an abusive arranged marriage as were other women in her family. I know some couples who are in very happy arranged marriages and I know a lot of women who are very unhappy in marriages of their own making. The divorce rate in the United States certainly attests to that.

No, I would not have liked my life and/or marriage determined for me. And I value the ability to chart my own course. But Rachlin goes too far I believe when she seemingly equates arranged marriages with unhappiness and abuse.

But overwhelmingly, this is a very interesting, and although somewhat sad, nonetheless a charming book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Alemi on June 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to know what it's like to be a woman in Iran and yet are not looking for simplistic and schmaltzy versions such that is dished by the Hollywood from time to time, then look no further than Mrs. Rachlin's superb account of her coming-of-age in this eye-openning memoir. Mrs. Rachlin's honest and passionate book describes in measured details her disillusionment with the political order as she is exposed to male brutality in both her immediate environs and in the larger society. I loved the fact that she doesn't overwhelm you with irrelevant nuances and sticks to the story, her story, which is spellbinding and reads like a novel. Thank you Mrs. Rachlin.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

BRIEF BIO http://www.nahidrachlin.com
Nahid Rachlin went to Columbia University Writing Program on a Doubleday-Columbia Fellowship and then went on to Stanford University MFA program on a Stegner Fellowship. Her publications include a memoir, PERSIAN GIRLS (Penguin), four novels, JUMPING OVER FIRE (City Lights), FOREIGNER (W.W. Norton), MARRIED TO A STRANGER (E.P.Dutton-Penguin), THE HEART'S DESIRE (City Lights), and a collection of short stories, VEILS (City Lights). Her individual short stories have appeared in more than fifty magazines, including The Virginia Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Redbook, Shenandoah. One of her stories was adopted by Symphony Space, "Selected Shorts," and was aired on NPR's around the country. Her work has received favorable reviews in major magazines and newspapers and translated into Portuguese, Polish, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, and Persian. She has been interviewed in NPR stations such as All Things Considered (Terry Gross), P&W magazine, Writers Chronicle. She has written reviews and essays for New York Times, Newsday, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Other grants and awards she has received include the Bennet Cerf Award, PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. She has taught creative writing at Barnard College, Yale University and at a wide variety of writers conferences, including Paris Writers Conference, Geneva Writers Conference, and Yale Writers Conference. She has been judge for several fiction awards and competitions, among them, Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction (2015) sponsored by AWP, Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award sponsored by Poets & Writers, Katherine Anne Porter Fiction Prize, University of Maryland, English Dept, Teichmann Fiction Prize, Barnard College, English Dept. For more please click on her website: website: http://www.nahidrachlin.com
***
Read My Essay: My First Writing Room: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-caw-off-the-shelf10-2009may10-story.html
***
Excerpts from Reviews of my books:
About PERSIAN GIRLS:
National Public Radio: The World
Christopher Merrill, the Director of Iowa International Writing Program: "If you want to know what it was like to grow up in Iran this is the book to read. The prospects of her becoming a writer were, at best, dim. But her portrait of the artist in an Islamic country on the verge of dramatic change is filled with light."

Boston Globe:
"Persian Girls, reads like a novel -- suspenseful, vivid, heartbreaking. In "Persian Girls, Rachlin chronicles her choices and those made by her sisters, her mother and her aunts, throwing the door to her family's home wide open. Readers who follow her through will be wiser, and moved."

The Charlotte Observer:
"Iran again looms large on the world stage. Rhetoric conjures fear of radical Islam and flashbacks to the Ayatollah Khomeini-- images that obscure Iran's rich cultural history as Persia and ignore ordinary people torn between old and new, secular and sacred. In her bittersweet memoir, Persian Girls, Iranian American novelist Nahid Rachlin fills in the blanks."

The Plain Dealer:
In her frank, vivid memoir, PERSIAN GIRLS, Nahid Rachlin recounts her life in Iran and her close relationship with her sister, Pari... The stark differences between their lives, as well as Rachlin's conflicting feelings about the United States, land of freedom but also of parochialism, make this account both riveting and heartbreaking.

Times Union, Albany, New York: A poignant, beautifully written memoir... a fine, profound book. Each scene has the shapely aura of memory, hauled back from the deep by one telling detail. A haunting and moving story."

More Magazine:
Rachlin's sister who never knew life without a domineering father and strict Muslim cultural rules, ends up in a heartbreaking, arranged marriage, while Rachlin escapes to college in the US, becomes an admired novelist and writers this wrenching, beautiful story.

Publishers Weekly:
"This lyrical and disturbing memoir by the author of four novels (Foreigner , etc.) tells the story of an Iranian girl growing up in a culture where, despite the Westernizing reforms of the Shah, women had little power or autonomy... Exuding the melancholy of an outsider, this memoir gives American readers rare insight into Iranians' ambivalence toward the United States, the desire for American freedom clashing with resentment of American hegemony."

About JUMPING OVER FIRE:

"If, as Aristotle reminds us, we are our desire, then who are we if the object of our desire is forbidden? What becomes of us if we are born in one world yet long for another? These are just two of the complex and difficult questions Nahid Rachlin explores and ultimately illuminates in this brave, engrossing, and timely novel. I recommend it highly!"
--Andre (Dubus III),author of House of Sand and Fog, and In the Bedroom

"This poignant, beautifully told story of an Iranian-American family is both a great read and a fine introduction to a land and a culture about which it is imperative we Americans inform ourselves as much and as quickly as possible."
-- Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind and For Rouenna.

About FOREIGNER:

New York Times Book Review:
"... a rare intimate look at Iranians who are poorer and less educated... I have read (this book) four times by now, and each time I have discovered new layers in it. The voice is cool and pure. Bleak is the right word, if you will understand that bleakness can have a startling beauty."
-- Anne Tyler, NY Times Book Review

"... an accomplished Iranian novel... FOREIGNER avoids political comment. Its protest is more oblique, the political constriction drives the passion deeper, and the novel with all its air of innocence, is a novel of violation, helplessness and defeat."
-- V.S. Naipaul, from Among the Believers

About MARRIED TO A STRANGER:

New York Times Book Review:
"The ecstasies and disillusionments of first love are the stuff of great tragedies and cheap romances but Nahid Rachlin has done something else with this familiar theme, and something more, though her style is elegantly simple... Miss Rachlin shows us not only the tranquil inner courtyards with sweets and gossip exchanged by the fishpond, the flower bedecked bridal chamber, but also the political, social and religious factions contending for primacy in the streets outside... Minou is a dreamy literary girl... like other yearning heroines from Dorothea Brooke to Emma Bovary, she wants more than conventional marriage..."-- New York Times book Review

"MARRIED TO A STRANGER seems to me such a clear statement and all of one pieces-- a direct cry, as it were, from out of a particular feminine sensibility. Reading the book, one feels one knows what it is like to be a girl growing up to be a woman in urban, 'modern' Iran; and knows it not from the outside, as from a sociological survey, but from within a living experience... Nahid Rachlin has refined her prose... by giving it the clarity and spare sensuousness of Persian poetry or miniature painting."
-- Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

About VEILS:

"... The commonalities of life, wherever it's lived, shine through in these tales of family friendship, love, and war... They are stories of strength and endurance that continually remind us how fragile our outer shells can be, how deeply love can be felt, and how strong the influence of home is, wherever home may be."
-- 500 Great Books by Women, A Reader's Guide, Penguin Books

About THE HEART'S DESIRE:

"What is remarkable about THE HEART'S DESIRE is its even-handedness and painful honesty. Rachlin's characters face each other across a gulf of irreconcilable differences, but she shows them to us with their complexity and dignity intact, their deepest needs as recognizable to our own. In the end, though, Iran is the major character in this novel. By the time we've finished confronting it from very diverse perspectives, each beautifully evoked, we have experienced the potent spell it casts over its people, and the weight of that spell fora Western woman." -- Rosellen Brown

"Nahid Rachlin has written an intimate family study that is, simultaneously, an exploration of cultures, nations, worlds. Her willingness to be vulnerable to such powerful feeling, and her ability to pass it along to us, make THE HEART'S DESIRE a profoundly moving experience."
-- Frederick Busch

-- Kirkus Reviews:
"... offers an affecting portrait of the irreconcilable conflict between the familiar and the foreign... A perceptive account, in polished prose..."
-- Kirkus Review





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