The New York Times Book Review
Honeymoon in Tehran: Two Years of Love and Danger in Iranby Azadeh Moaveni
Azadeh Moaveni, longtime Middle East correspondent for Time magazine, returns to Iran to cover the rise of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Living and working in Tehran, she finds a nation that openly yearns for freedom and contact with the West but whose economic grievances and/i>/i>
BONUS: This edition contains a Honeymoon in Tehran discussion guide.
Azadeh Moaveni, longtime Middle East correspondent for Time magazine, returns to Iran to cover the rise of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Living and working in Tehran, she finds a nation that openly yearns for freedom and contact with the West but whose economic grievances and nationalist spirit find an outlet in Ahmadinejad’s strident pronouncements. And then the unexpected happens: Azadeh falls in love with a young Iranian man and decides to get married and start a family in Tehran. Suddenly, she finds herself navigating an altogether different side of Iranian life. As women are arrested for “immodest dress” and the authorities unleash a campaign of intimidation against journalists, Azadeh is forced to make the hard decision that her family’s future lies outside Iran. Powerful and poignant, Honeymoon in Tehran is the harrowing story of a young woman’s tenuous life in a country she thought she could change.
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The New York Times
In her new memoir, American-born journalist Moaveni (Lipstick Jihad) returns to Tehran in 2005 to cover Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election for Time magazine, hoping to make the city her permanent home. Her plans are complicated by the standoff with the U.S. over Iran's nuclear program, as well as several unexpected turns in her life. She falls in love, moves in with her boyfriend, becomes pregnant, gets married-in that order-in a country that has no word for "boyfriend" and no qualms about brutally beating unmarried pregnant women. Through her own experience, Moaveni reports on the growing apathy of the people of Iran, a society burdened by staggering inflation and tensions between religion, political oppression and secular life, the latter ever more enticing through ubiquitous, illegal satellite television. Gradually, the idealism and religious faith that characterized Moaveni's younger years wane. With the birth of her son, her misgivings come to a head, compounded by the spying, threats and intimidation she experienced at the hands of the Ministry of Intelligence. Moaveni, who now lives in London with her family, has penned a story of coming-of-age in two cultures with a keen eye and a measured tone. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“This perfect blend of political commentary and social observation is an excellent choice for readers interested in going beyond the headlines to gain an in-depth understanding of twenty-first-century Iran.”
“A rare, rich glimpse inside a closed society.”
“A story of coming-of-age in two cultures [written] with a keen eye and a measured tone.”
“Sharp and written with ferociously brilliant reporting, Honeymoon in Tehran, Azadeh Moaveni’s nuanced perspective on her ancestors’ homeland, is without peer.”
–Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan
“Honeymoon in Tehran is a timely, well-written, and intimate exploration of the soul of Iran. With an eye for detail and a feel for her subject matter, Moaveni has brought to life a country that is at once immensely important to the West and deeply misunderstood. Honest, perceptive, and nuanced, this tale of love and anguish in the Islamic Republic is brimming with poignant political insights. This book will enchant and educate.”
–Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future
“At a time when Iranian journalists were jailed and their newspapers regularly shut down, Time magazine correspondent Azadeh Moaveni managed to give voice to the Iranian psyche. Fearlessly, Moaveni pushed the limits of her Iranian government minder and refused to be intimidated. Her stories revealed the internal turmoil felt by many Iranians decades after the revolution. Honeymoon in Tehran is a powerful and compelling read that gives a face to the voices of discourse in Iran, voices that still long for a lawful society.”
–Davar Ardalan, senior producer at NPR News and author of My Name Is Iran
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Meet the Author
Azadeh Moaveni is the author of Lipstick Jihad and the co-author, with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, of Iran Awakening. She has lived and reported throughout the Middle East, and speaks both Farsi and Arabic fluently. As one of the few American correspondents allowed to work continuously in Iran since 1999, she has reported widely on youth culture, women's rights, and Islamic reform for Time, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, NPR, and the Los Angeles Times. Currently a Time magazine contributing writer on Iran and the Middle East, she lives with her husband and son in London.
From the Hardcover edition.
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I was very interested in reading a book that offered an inside look at the workings of Iran - the people, their daily lives, what they think of their own government. And while those insights are provided in the book, the style of the author, Azadeh Moaveni, is a bit off-putting. She obviously loves Iran, the country of her parents' birth and, in many ways, the country of her heart. However, what comes across in the book is that she is attracted to the idea of Iran - its history, poetry, art, ancient religious traditions - and it is obvious that, to her, the reality of Iran falls far short of her expectations. While that is entirely understandable, her constant protestations about the affection and deep connection she has for the country are irritating in the face of her constant naiveté about conditions in Iran along with her unfortunate tone of intellectual arrogance, a combination that often puts her and her loved ones in potentially dangerous situations. Her relationship with her faith is similar in many ways. She loves Islam because it reminds her of her grandmother, she loves its mysticism and rituals, she is enthralled by the crowds of men whipping themselves in ritualistic mourning for the death of Muhammad's grandson. In short, she loves it for its drama and the fond memories it evokes of a much-loved relative. But again, the realities of the thing irritate her. She is angered at the need to cover her hair (an anger I would share), she ignores the rule about avoiding alcohol, she even chooses a Zoroastrian wedding rather than an Islamic one. While I can understand this paradox, it is the thinly veiled tone of arrogance that ruined it for me. There is an undeniable sense of condescension in this book and it detracts from the situations that are supposed to draw the reader in and, one suspects, garner sympathy for the author. Ms. Moaveni seems to have gone into her experience in Iran with blinders on. She is a woman who had extensive experiencing traveling in Iran for her work as a journalist but didn't seem to see the reality of the country. When confronted with it, she tends to bury her head in the sand. The book had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, it didn't deliver.
The author of this book also wrote "Lipstick Jihad" and is a journalist. However, this book is more of a personal diary regarding her life in Iran, and the cultural difficulties of being an Iranian who was raised in the United States. If you enjoy personal biographies that give you insight into a countries culture this is a good choice. This is not a dry scientific tome. My criticism would be that you are getting an upper-class view of the current situation in Iran. It would have been interesting if the author reached beyond her own circles and had more interaction with Iranians of different backgrounds.
I think this is kind of a tough read and hard to get into if you aren't used to her writing style. Luckily I have read her previous book and was prepared. I like how she includes lot of history of Iran both cultural and political to help you better understand the current state of the country and the way the population feels about what is going on.
I was disappointed when I read Honeymoon in Tehran. The overall book and chapter titles were misleading and provoked the reader to bland endings. The book did not go through a second draft it seems, with the various grammatical errors. Also, fancy words slowed the reader down, which caused the book to drag. Ms. Moeveni's knowledge and research about the Iranian culture and its people was excellent, but her approach and story telling failed to satisfy the reader. However, I recommend her first book Lipstick Jihad since it seemed to be more interesting and stimulating to the reader. Honeymoon in Tehran was repetitive and took longer to read because I'd expected it to be just as good as the first memoir.