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Things I've Been Silent About: Memories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, December 30, 2008
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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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From Bookmarks Magazine
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).
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
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It "drags"--hard to get into the life and times of the young girl--she needs a "ghost writer"--perhaps she is too close emotionally to the circumstances to keep the story "moving" and holding the reader's interest.
But "Things I've been silent about" way passed my expectation. Even if Nafisi's childhood was a different kind of childhood (compared to my own childhood) still I couldn't stop feeling more and more related to her story, and I ended up having a total understanding and full empathy toward her.
"Things I've been silent about" is also the story of a betrayal, but it is more at a personal level. Through this story-telling she has depicted the image of an Iran (pre-1979 revolution) I had heard about, but I didn't know. An Iran I had always loved to know, but living in Diaspora had made this task too hard to accomplish, almost impossible.
I especially loved the way Nafisi remembers her father and I think the image of Mother is not as negative as some people have suggested. I find the book an honest look, even an effort to understand and to justify her parents actions and reactions, even to forgive them. It is a reflection over this haunting past, something that many of us need to do to get over many of our isuues! Nobody's all evil or all angel, and Nafisi mangages to show the values and also the shortcomings of her parents in such an elegant way, most importantly with love and compassion.
Honestly, I have never been a fan of history books, but what I love the most in Nafisi's writing is the way she can mix her personal history with the history of Iran and how easily she can connect to her readers. The way she grasped their attention and doesn't let go! Plus, I was so impressed with her craft of writing....The powerful ending of each chapter left me in awe, and each time, I had no other option than to keep reading the next chapter!
It was a wonderful book and I would definitely recommend it to all the Iranians and non-Iranians!