Dhaka, Bangladesh
Everything on Iran

Everything on Iran

Shirin Ebadi has a memoir out, Until We Are Free: My Fights for Human Rights in Iran, that brings the remarkable story of her life up to date since her previous book, Iran Awakening. The first book had been written in the first flush of recognition after she won the Nobel Peace Prize. The new one is more sobering - and as Iran opens its doors to the world, after years of sanctions, it is a reminder of how unique the country is, and how complex. A short reading list to come to grips with the country: l Strange Times, My Dear: The Pen Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature edited by Nahid Mozaffari: A collection of poetry and fiction of immense power and scope, its breath-holding piece is the poem which gives it the title. Mozaffari's introduction to the collection refers not just to the censorship that forces many writers to flee Iran, but also in the U.S., whereby commissioning and marketing writing from Iran was deemed a "prohibited export of services". l Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup by Christopher de Bellaigue: The year 1953 is key in any telling of the modern history of Iran, when the U.S. engineered a coup to bring down Mossadegh, setting back democratic politics in the country and popularly casting America's motivations in influencing the affairs of Iran in very suspect light. De Bellaigue, a Briton who's lived in Iran, had previously written the highly acclaimed In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: A Memoir of Iran. l A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind by Michael Axworthy: He subsequently wrote the equally riveting Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic, saying about the 2009 Green Movement: "Iranians sometimes gave an exaggerated sense of their country's importance in the world. But for once it appeared justified." But even in the longer view of Iranian history, you get the impression every so often that an "exaggerated sense" of Iran's importance is well-justified, that Iran rightly holds our interest as no possibly no other country does. l Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi: Satrapi brought an entire new readership to the graphic novel with this book about growing up in revolutionary Iran. It gives an intimate view of living what Azadeh Moaveni (translator for Ebadi, and author of Honeymoon in Tehran: Two Years of Love and Danger in Iran) calls privately living "as if", as if all the limiting rules of dress, behaviour, interaction do not exist.

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