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Farian Sabahi, A Summer in Teheran

Farian Sabahi, A Summer in Teheran, Laterza, 2007

With this account of travels and encounters, the author leads us right into the houses of a present day Iran, which is still enveloped in all too many stereotypes. We are party to the detailed, everyday accounts and experiences of people who work in a school, publish articles in newspapers and those who are involved in the art world. We are taken by taxi along the trafficked roads of Teheran and beyond. We hear stories of women oppressed and effaced by those who deny them the right to a public existence. We experience the pain of the open wounds of the contradictions inflicted on those who live in this land and who love it despite everything.

 

What transpires between the lines reveals how the embargo imposed by the US affects the everyday life of a student in Teheran or how Ahmadinejad’s public speeches invade the life-choices of individuals and entire families. We experience the crushing, material weight which dictates the use of the chador, and other external apparel, as well as the determined attempt at resistance marked by clandestine parties where alcohol and drugs circulate freely. It comes as a surprise that these men and women are so like us; that they have similar aspirations and problems which are common to all human beings. And yet, the crushing regime that governs them has created an enormous fear-generating abyss between them and us.

 

The writer is child of mixed Italian and Iranian parents. Her personal history is intrinsic to our understanding of this lively, detailed journey, and unfamiliar world. By the end of the book we are left with the urge to find out more, to hear other opinions concerning what we have both “seen” and experienced; a desire to compare and contrast which provokes us into not remaining simply partially informed spectators.

 

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