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Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran
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Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran

by Afschineh Latifi, Pablo F. Fenjves, Pablo F. Fenjves (With)
 

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At the age of ten, a young Iranian girl witnesses the horror of her father's execution and escapes the revolution with her sister.

Growing up in Tehran in the 1970s, Afschineh Latifi and her sister and two brothers enjoyed a life of luxury and privilege. Their father, a self–made man, had worked his way up from nothing to become a colonel in the Shah's army

Overview

At the age of ten, a young Iranian girl witnesses the horror of her father's execution and escapes the revolution with her sister.

Growing up in Tehran in the 1970s, Afschineh Latifi and her sister and two brothers enjoyed a life of luxury and privilege. Their father, a self–made man, had worked his way up from nothing to become a colonel in the Shah's army, and their mother, a woman of equally modest roots, had made a career for herself as a respected schoolteacher. But in February, 1979, Colonel Latifi was arrested by members of the newly installed Khomeini regime, and publicly pilloried as an "Enemy of God." Some months later, after having been shunted from one prison cell to another, and without benefit of a legitimate trial, Colonel Latifi was summarily executed.

Fearing for the safety of her children, Mrs. Latifi made a wrenching decision: to send her daughters, ages ten and eleven, to the west, splitting up the family until they could safely reunite. Out on their own, Afschineh and her sister, Afsaneh, were forced to become strong young women before they'd even had a childhood.

Even After All This Time is a story of hope and heartache, a story of a family torn apart for six harrowing years, and finally coming together to rebuild in America. In the richly evocative tradition of the bestselling Reading Lolita in Tehran, this is a story of a family that had the courage to dream impossible dreams and to make them come true against impossible odds.

Editorial Reviews

Daily News
“Inspring.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Well-written.”
Booklist
“[A] compelling testament to the dauntless nature of the human spirit.”
Publishers Weekly
"Be like a nail!" Latifi's mother would scold when the author cried. These words are a testament to the grit Latifi displays throughout this wonderful memoir. The author was 10 and her sister 11 in May 1979, when their father, a military officer under the Shah, was executed by Khomeini's soldiers. Only 34, their mother was left to raise four young children (she also had two sons) in a newly fundamentalist society hostile to women. At first, the girls "loved putting on the chadors. It felt like Halloween." But when a villager started bidding on marrying Latifi's then 13-year-old sister, their mother knew they had to leave. Yet visas were routinely denied, passports arbitrarily confiscated. Still, Mrs. Latifi managed to take her daughters to Austria, where they attended a convent school (the boys remained in Tehran). The year in Austria was disastrous; the girls unwittingly spent the family's savings trying to overcome their loneliness. America was the next solution; there, the girls lived with relatives in Virginia and learned to take care of each other. Things turned out all right-the family was finally reunited, the children all chose good careers. Unlike many Iranian memoirs, most of this one takes place outside the country. Still, it's a remarkable, resonating tale. Photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This engaging work is part cultural history, part political history, and part memoir. Latifi, a New York City attorney, examines her charmed life before the Iranian revolution in 1979 and the devastating consequences that followed her father's execution in May of that year. Latifi's mother decided to send her two oldest children (ten- and 12-year-old daughters) to Austria and then America. While staying with indifferent relatives in America, the Latifi girls encountered further isolation in the community because of their heritage. It was six years before their mother and two brothers were able to join them; during that time, both sisters went on to successful college and post-college careers. Latifi poignantly recounts coming of age without her mother, honestly relating both the good and the bad, the comical and the dramatic. An homage to the love between her parents and the sacrifices of her mother, this work should be in any public or academic library that contains Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran or Roya Hakakian's Journey from the Land of No. A hard-to-put-down book.-Maria C. Bagshaw, Lake Erie Coll. Lib., Painesville, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A depiction of life after the Iranian Revolution will invite inevitable-and unfavorable-comparison with Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. The Revolution tore apart the Latifi clan, as first-time author Latifi recounts in this family saga. Her father is arrested on trumped-up murder charges, tried before a puppet court, and executed. Latifi's courageous and cunning mother sends her two daughters-ten and eleven-to Austria for schooling and for safety, and they eventually settle in the US. The author learns English from television, studies hard, and becomes an attorney. After years apart, Mother and all the Latifi siblings are reunited in America, and the tale concludes with our heroine's first, emotionally grueling trip back to Iran. Despite the thrilling backdrop, though-the tumultuous Iranian politics, international education, high-pitched emotions-the story is colorless and plodding. Experiences that might have been entrancing in the hands of another writer tend to the prosaic: "Day-to-day life in Iran was becoming impossible"; "Before long, I began to feel more optimistic about the future"; "I was . . . devastated by the break-up." Occasionally, Latifi leavens such generalities with concrete, specific details-her first use of Nair, her discovery of library cards and of Jane Austen, her first visit to an American courtroom, the ugly plaid that seems ubiquitous in Virginia. For the most part, though, she breaks the cardinal show/don't-tell rule, the result being an ultimately tedious read. In her summer law clerkship in Charleston, West Virginia, for example, Latifi felt so out of place that she quit, leaving in early July-and what a wonderful chapter this could have made, full ofsights, sounds, and misunderstandings. But Latifi summarizes the entire affair with "I was hopelessly lonely in Charleston, and I found the place depressingly provincial." Her tumultuous childhood is of interest, but it doesn't make an on-again/off-again romance with a good-looking man (who remains two-dimensional) worth spending time with. Photographs sprinkled throughout are the most riveting part of a flat memoir.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060745349
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/28/2006
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,193,736
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Even After All This Time
A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran

Chapter One

The Arrest

On February 13, 1979, my father, Colonel Mohammad Bagher Latifi, was detained at his barracks in the Farah Abad section of Tehran. A group of enlisted men stepped into his office, relieved him of his weapon, and informed him that he was under arrest. Less than an hour later, three men arrived at the barracks, escorted my father into the back of an open jeep, and drove away.

As the jeep approached the main gate, on its way out of the facility, my father asked if he could leave his house keys behind for my mother. The jeep stopped in front of the kiosk, and my father turned to the guard. "Please," he said, pressing the keys and his checkbook into the man's hands, "give these to my wife when she comes to fetch me."

The guard took the items, and the jeep pulled away.

When my mother arrived that afternoon, the guard told her that her husband had been taken away. She wanted to know who had taken him and why, but the guard shrugged and pursed his lips. He did not know, he said apologetically. He knew nothing. But he had two items for Khanoom Sarhang, Mrs. Colonel. He turned and retrieved the keys and the checkbook and put them into my mother's shaking hands, and she thanked him and drove home to tend to her four children.

At dinner that night, my older sister, Afsaneh, asked about my father, and we were told that Baba Joon was away on military business. This was not unusual, so we sat down to eat, oblivious, and we went to bed that night, still oblivious.

The next day, my mother drove from one Tehran jail to the next, looking for my father, and everywhere she went she was met with insults and abuse. "Look at you, you filthy slut! Have you no self- respect? Can't you dress like a decent woman?"

My mother had never worn a chador in her life -- she was a thoroughly westernized Iranian: her head exposed, a hint of make up on her eyes and lips, even a full- time job -- but with the Shah recently deposed and Ayatollah Khomeini newly in power, the country was in upheaval.

"Please," she begged. "His name is Latifi, Sarhang Latifi. If you would just let me know he's here, it would mean the world to me."

"You are wasting your time," she was told. "We've probably executed him already."

The next day, she tried again, crisscrossing the city, driving from one prison to the next, but there was no sign of him, only more insults and abuse. And when we returned home after school, she was still out in the streets, searching, and her sister, Mali, was waiting for us by the front door.

"Where's Mommie Joon?" I asked.

"She's running errands," Khaleh Mali said. "She'll be back later."

I turned to look at Afsaneh. We both knew something was very wrong.

That night, we confronted our mother, asking her to tell us the truth. Afsaneh was eleven years old; I had just celebrated my tenth birthday.

"Baba has been arrested," she told us. "But it's okay; it's nothing to worry about, just a little misunderstanding. Still, you mustn't tell the boys. They are too young. They might get upset."

I had never seen my mother cry, and she didn't cry then, either. But she came close.

"So where is he?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said. "They're holding him somewhere. I'm still looking."

Afsaneh fell apart -- she was very close to Baba -- but I tried to be strong.

"Maybe I can help you find him," I said. "I'll go with you tomorrow, and we'll look together."

My mother's eyes grew moist, but still she didn't cry. "I don't want you girls to worry," she said, her voice harsher than usual to mask the pain. "Everything is going to be fine."

The next day, when I got out of school, my mother was waiting for me on the sidewalk. She had decided to take me up on my offer, hoping the authorities might take pity on a child. I felt like crying -- I often cried over little things, like being late for school or misplacing one of my dolls -- but I didn't cry this time. I knew my mother needed me, and I was determined to make myself useful.

For the next two days, we drove from prison to prison, searching for my father.

"Look," she would tell the guards, pointing at me. "He has children. There are three others at home. We are just normal people, like you." But they showed no mercy.


When we arrived home that night, my aunt suggested that we broaden our search. She had heard from friends that many of the more important prisoners were being kept in government buildings, and that some of the religious schools had been transformed into holding facilities.

The next day, after class, my mother was again waiting for me in the street, and we tried anew. We visited half a dozen government buildings and another half- dozen schools with no luck. However, at our last stop, one of the guards took pity on us. He told us to try Madrese Alavi, one of the city's better known religious schools. "Many of the key people are there," he said.

I was exhausted and hungry, my feet hurt, and I didn't want to go. I was unable to get my young mind around the gravity of the situation, but my mother insisted. "This is the last place," she said. "I promise. Then I will get you a new Barbie."

That was different! A Barbie doll! I would do it for a new Barbie!

We drove to Madrese Alavi, and my mother left me in the car, near the entrance. The school had been turned into some sort of provisional headquarters, and members of the new regime were everywhere. I could see my mother at the front entrance, talking to two guards.

"Five days already?" they said, laughing. "It would be a miracle if he was still alive."

Even After All This Time
A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran
. Copyright © by Afschineh Latifi. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Afschineh Latifi was born in Tehran in 1969. She is an attorney and lives in New York City. This is her first book.

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