Archive for January, 2009

All About My Mother in Tehran: a review of Azar Nafisi’s Second Memoir

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Things I’ve Been Silent About is the second memoir by the Iranian literary critic Azar Nafisi, author of the best-selling Reading Lolita in Tehran, and it does not begin auspiciously. Before we even know why we should be interested in reading further, the author brandishes a heavy-handed and banal theory: “Long before I understood what it meant for a victim to become complicit in crimes of the state, I had discovered … the shame of complicity. … This book is a response to my own inner censor and inquisitor.”

The “complicity” alluded to is with Nafisi’s mother, and the analogy shows a painfully immature equation between the Iranian state and Nafisi’s fraught relationship with her late mother. Things is primarily an extended complaint against her mother, Nezhat, for sins that range from placing her bed in the wrong part of the room when Nafisi was 4 to driving her husband, Nafisi’s father, to seek comfort in the arms of a mistress who eventually became his second wife. (more…)