From Publishers Weekly
Nafisi follows up the internationally acclaimed Reading Lolita in Tehran
with another memoir, concentrating this time on her unhappy family life. Her mother was vocally nostalgic for her first marriage to a man who died two years after their wedding day, while her father sought the company of other women—not so much for sexual excitement as for emotional stability. Nafisi's parents' relationship was so off-kilter that when her father, the mayor of Tehran, was accused of plotting against the shah and thrown into jail, one of his main hopes was that it would finally reconcile them. Nafisi grew up determined to become the woman [my mother] claimed she had wanted to be, but an adolescent education in England and an impulsive first marriage (followed by college in the U.S.) did not bring the happiness she sought. The calm candor with which she narrates her experiences, from childhood sexual abuse to a frightening confrontation when her second husband argues with a religious zealot over her unscarved hair, provides a solid emotional anchor—and the intimate drama at her memoir's core, the conflicting frustration with a parent and the desire for connection, is one that will resonate with readers everywhere. (Jan. 6)
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Family history is almost always messy. When tangled up with revolution, it can get downright chaotic. That Things I've Been Silent About
is a less-focused effort than Nafisi's first book, then, is unsurprising. The Iranian exile (she's lived in the United States since 1997) continues to display a masterful touch that merges the personal with the political. She also deploys her sharp literary sensibilities to inform this hard-to-tell story. Almost all the critics point out the book's fragmentary nature. Those drawn in by the intimacies in Nafisi's story judge the book a resounding success; those looking for something else—more about Iran or less judgment about her mother—find it "flawed if beautifully written" (Oregonian
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