Saturday 28 April 2007

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

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPublished by The University of North Carolina Press

Within the pages of this book, Fatemeh Keshavarz shares with us the Jasmine and Stars of her life. Like Reading Lolita in Tehran, this is a memoir of life in Iran but the similarities end there. While Reading Lolita in Tehran is a book that focusses on the darker aspects of Iran with just the odd glimpse into lighter moments, Jasmine and Stars is the opposite. The author shares her fond memories of growing up and of her family and she introduces us to the wonderful and colourful world of Persian Literature.

Simultaneously, the author references Reading Lolita in Tehran and provides a critique of the same. While I understood many of the points she made, I couldn't help but feel that it could have been expressed differently. Oftentimes the author's view came across as narrow with an intolerance for differing opinions. That in itself I found confusing as the author clearly states from the start that her aim is to promote open-mindedness. I also felt some of the points were reaching a little. An example of this being the author's comment and complaint that Reading Lolita in Tehran covered very little (if any) of the Persian Literature and authors. Given the title of the book and the fact that it is based around a group of women who are learning about western literature, I am not surprised by this fact and to be honest I was a little unsure why the same cannot be said for Keshavarz.

That said, I did greatly enjoy reading about Persian Literature and getting a glimpse into a little of the culture and history. Some of the authors mentioned have been translated into English and some not. At the end of the review I will be including a link to one of the poets mentioned, who has many of her poems online and I will also be including a link to a really useful (and free) site I found which teaches Persian. I loved that this book does give another perspective to life in Iran and I came away with a wonderful new way of looking at Iranian family life. A brighter, happier picture.

There is no choosing between the two books. I believe that while Reading Lolita in Tehran paints a dark and gloomy, oftentimes frightening view of life, Jasmine and Stars paints a view that is overly filled with sunshine and roses and so I would recommend that both should be read as the reality is probably somewhere inbetween. I also hope in the future to add further Iranian memoirs to my reading list.

Author's website:

The website of Forugh Farrokhzad: (Beautiful site and breathtaking poetry)

Easy Persian site:

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