In My Hands Today…

Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran – Fatemeh Keshavarz

In a direct, frank, and intimate exploration of Iranian literature and society, scholar, teacher, and poet Fatemeh Keshavarz challenges popular perceptions of Iran as a society bereft of vitality and joy. Her fresh perspective on present-day Iran provides a rare insight into this rich culture alive with artistic expression but virtually unknown to most Americans.

Keshavarz introduces readers to two modern Iranian women writers whose strong and articulate voices belie the stereotypical perception of Iranian women as voiceless victims in a country of villains. She follows with a lively critique of the recent best-seller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which epitomizes what Keshavarz calls the New Orientalist narrative, a view marred by stereotype and prejudice more often tied to current geopolitical conflicts than to an understanding of Iran.

Blending in firsthand glimpses of her own life–from childhood memories in 1960s Shiraz to her present life as a professor in America–Keshavarz paints a portrait of Iran depicting both cultural depth and intellectual complexity. With a scholar’s expertise and a poet’s hand, she helps amplify the powerful voices of contemporary Iranians and leads readers toward a deeper understanding of the country’s past and present.

In a direct, frank, and intimate exploration of Iranian literature and society, scholar, teacher, and poet Fatemeh Keshavarz challenges popular perceptions of Iran as a society bereft of vitality and joy. Her fresh perspective on present day Iran provides a rare insight into this rich culture alive with artistic expression but virtually unknown to most Americans. She warns against the rise of what she calls the New Orientalist narrative, which thrives on stereotype and prejudice and is often tied to current geopolitical conflict rather than an understanding of Iran. Keshavarz offers a lively critique of the best-seller Reading Lolita in Tehran, which she says epitomizes this New Orientalist attitude. Blending in firsthand glimpses of her own life, Keshavarz paints a portrait of Iran depicting both cultural depth and intellectual complexity.

In My Hands Today…

The Secret History of Iran – Hamad Subani

Iran is an ancient place of extreme contrasts. It is both blessed and cursed. It is home to both Islam and anti-Islam.

This book attempts to trace out the Secret History of Iran, from 500 B.C. to present. This book covers the various secret groups and cabals that continue to dominate Iran, from the remnants of Mystery Babylon and the Sabaeans to crypto-Byzantines. Their little known role in the Mongol Invasion is investigated.

Connections between such groups and well-known poets and intellectuals produced by Iran is methodically examined.

Under the little known Khwarezm Empire, Iran served as the key to the Mongol destruction of the Islamic World. Today, Iran has once again been thrust into a similar position, as the modern-day Mongols encircle the Middle East. What role will Iran play this time?

In My Hands Today…

Two Wings of a Nightingale: Persian Soul, Islamic Heart – Jill Worrall

Iran is probably the most misunderstood country on Earth, and one of the most fascinating. Few people in the West know anything about Iranian people beyond their current politics and religion. In this book, award-winning travel writer Jill Worrall, with her friend Reza Mirkhalaf, a leading tour manager from Tehran, describe an Iran the world has forgotten about. Using the threads of Iran’s silk road heritage as a basis for a road trip travelogue, they visit places both ancient and modern, many rarely written about by westerners. Jill’s vivid observations are complemented by Reza’s expert knowledge of Iran’s history, religion, culture and architecture.

During their journey, Jill and Reza explore the caravanserai that were once a vital part of the silk routes that once crossed Persia, while also encountering many ordinary Iranians. The result is a picture of Iran that offers a detailed insight into the landscapes, landmarks and people of the country at a grassroots level. The title reflects the dual nature o Iranian life and also the fact Jill and Reza are two people of different sexes, different religions and cultures travelling together, yet keeping their travels harmoniously on course. Together they visit the holiest city in Iran, Mashhad, paddle in the Persian Gulf, pass close by the borders of both Afghanistan and Iraq, stay with local families, play in the snow near Mt Ararat, pray in mosques, read poetry in Shiraz and eat ice creams in Isfahan.

In My Hands Today…

he Stationery Shop – Marjan Kamali

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 42201995._SY475_.jpg

Roya is a dreamy, idealistic teenager living in 1953 Tehran who, amidst the political upheaval of the time, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood book and stationery shop. She always feels safe in his dusty store, overflowing with fountain pens, shiny ink bottles, and thick pads of soft writing paper.

When Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—she loses her heart at once. And, as their romance blossoms, the modest little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.

A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square, but suddenly, violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she resigns herself to never seeing him again.

Until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did he leave? Where did he go? How was he able to forget her?

In My Hands Today…

The Bathhouse – Farnoosh Moshiri

72964

With intense emotion and great literary skill, Farnoosh Moshiri has written one of the most moving novels to come out in years.

The story begins with the arrest of a seventeen-year-old girl in the early days of the fundamentalist revolution in Iran.

Imprisoned because of her brother’s involvement with leftist politics, she is placed in a makeshift jail, a former bathhouse, in which other women are held captive.

With a gripping narrative, Moshiri gives voice to these prisoners, exploring their torment and struggle, but also their courage and humanity, in the face of tyrants.