Thursday, October 21, 2010

Literary Bite: Things I've Been Silent About

I was so excited to read this book. I ordered it back in July, and I’ve been saving it on my shelf for just the right occasion. And after reading We Need To Talk About Kevin, I thought it was time for a wonderfully amazing book. 

That’s what I expect from Azar Nafisi -  Reading Lolita in Tehran is one of my favorite books, so I was really looking forward to reading her newest, Things I’ve Been Silent About.

But high expectations are a tricky thing – Things I’ve Been Silent About is a good book, but I wanted awesomeness and it fell a bit short.

This book is autobiographical, a memoir focusing on Nafisi’s relationship with her parents. Her mother is bi-polar kind of crazy, and her father was once the Mayor of Tehran and spent years in jail for political reasons. Nafisi herself went through a young marriage and divorce, and a rebellious political phase that hasn’t really ended.

The story takes place in tumultuous Iran from the fall of the Shah through the time of Khomeini to the present day. Nafisi’s family, as members of the academic and political elite are at the center of the drama, and politics constantly interferes with their already-less-than-ideal domestic sphere.

Nafisi’s writing style is somehow detached, despite the fact that she is central to the story. Throughout reading I felt very much that I was an outsider looking in, trying to make sense of her family…which I suppose is how she feels as well. She somehow keeps it relatively impersonal…family relationships are so weird, and I still don’t have much of an idea of who Nafisi really is.

But don’t let my less-than-stellar introduction deter you – Things I’ve Been Silent About is a very good book. But if you only read one book by this author, I still prefer Reading Lolita in Tehran.  

Read the NY Times review.