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Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran / Edition 1

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Those interested in extended analysis of Nafisi's work will be interested in this book, especially the last section dedicated exclusively to RLT."--MESA Bulletin

"Eye opening. . . . Keshavarz gives a rare glimpse into post-revolutionary Iran, showing that while there are a host of political problems and unresolved social issues, still literature, culture and Iranians' love of life and beauty are alive and well."--The Jordan Times

"Extremely valuable as a personal testimony of [Keshavarz's] own experiences growing up in Iran and provides a counterbalance to Nafisi's dark portrayal of her life in Iran. . . . Important . . . because of its active participation in the debate about how Western views of Middle Eastern countries are colored by prejudice and stereotyping."--Middle East Journal

"Narrated in a very engaging and evocative style, embellished with poetic force. This personal story is told in a direct narrative form which transcends the boundaries of telling and showing."--Muslim World Book Review

"It is not necessary to have read Reading Lolita in Tehran to appreciate the thrust of [Keshavarz's] argument, which challenges the popular notion that Iran is an oppressive, joyless, intellectually stagnant place, particularly for women. . . . Con

"Introduces . . . Iranian women writers, with infectious enthusiasm, to western readers. . . . Suffused with references to pomegranates, fragrant gardens, Sufi mysticisim, and tender father-daughter relationships . . . [ Jasmine and Stars] exude[s]

"Introduces ordinary Iranians and a universal spirit we all share."--Washington University in St.Louis Magazine

"A balanced, objective perspective on Iran, a perspective that provides nuanced depth and humanity. . . . A great read. "--People's Weekly World

"Draws from her own rich experiences and illustrates wonderfully rich portraits of her family and close friends. . . . Assures readers that every word is wholly heartfelt and sincere."--Arab American News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807831090
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/5/2007
  • Series: Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Fatemeh Keshavarz is Roshan Institute Chair in Persian Studies at the University of Maryland. She is author of four previous books, including Reading Mystical Lyric: The Case of Jalal Al-Din Rumi and a volume of poetry.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: What Does the Elephant Look Like? 1

1 The Jasmine, the Stars, and the Grasshoppers 13

2 The Eternal Forough: The Voice of Our Earthly Rebellion 33

3 My Uncle the Painter 59

4 Women without Men: Fireworks of the Imagination 85

5 The Good, the Missing, and the Faceless: What Is Wrong with Reading Lolita in Tehran 109

6 Tea with My Father and the Saints 145

Recommended Reading 167

Index 169

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2008

    A reviewer

    It's a fascinating book. I can relate my childhood and youth to Dr. Keshavarz. I am so thrilled to find her. I can see the stars even from the roof of my room. I can smell the jasmin and feel that I am still in my home in Iran and review my beautiful memories again!

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