Persian Girls: A Memoir [NOOK Book]

Overview

For many years, heartache prevented Nahid Rachlin from turning her sharp novelist's eye inward: to tell the story of how her own life diverged from that of her closest confidante and beloved sister, Pari. Growing up in Iran, both refused to accept traditional Muslim mores, and dreamed of careers in literature and on the stage. Their lives changed abruptly when Pari was coerced by their father into marrying a wealthy and cruel suitor. Nahid ...
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Persian Girls: A Memoir

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Overview

For many years, heartache prevented Nahid Rachlin from turning her sharp novelist's eye inward: to tell the story of how her own life diverged from that of her closest confidante and beloved sister, Pari. Growing up in Iran, both refused to accept traditional Muslim mores, and dreamed of careers in literature and on the stage. Their lives changed abruptly when Pari was coerced by their father into marrying a wealthy and cruel suitor. Nahid narrowly avoided a similar fate, and instead negotiated with him to pursue her studies in America.

When Nahid received the unsettling and mysterious news that Pari had died after falling down a light of stairs, she traveled back to Iran-now under the Islamic regime-to find out what happened to her truest friend, confront her past, and evaluate what the future holds for the heartbroken in a tale of crushing sorrow, sisterhood, and ultimately, hope.


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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Nahid Rachlin grew up during the reign of the shah, Iran's most Westernized period, but even this era of supposed secular permissiveness could not protect her and her friends from the strict prescriptions of Muslim cultural laws. As she was learning to cope under a cruel, domineering father, she found solace and secret freedom in her friendship with Pari. Together, the two girls devoured banned books and carried on secret romances with American boys from across the river. But in time, their paths diverged irrevocably: Nahid narrowly avoided an arranged marriage and escaped to America. But Pari, an innocent who lived on Hollywood film fantasies, was forced to wed an abusive husband who virtually imprisoned her in her house. Her finale was as tragic as it was inevitable. A bittersweet memoir by an author whose novels have received praise from V. S. Naipaul and Anne Tyler.
Carolyn See
Nahid's life plays out against a backdrop of tragedy. She has escaped to America, but she's lost so much of what she loved…the author doesn't comment directly on the meaning of these events. She just tells the tales of individuals crushed. This is just a story of how it was, during a certain period of time, for one upper-middle-class family in Iran, destroyed from within and without by forces it couldn't begin to reckon with.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
This lyrical and disturbing memoir by the author of four novels (Foreigner, etc.) tells the story of an Iranian girl growing up in a culture where, despite the Westernizing reforms of the Shah, women had little power or autonomy. As an infant in 1946, Rachlin was given to her mother's favorite sister, a widow who had been unable to conceive, and was lovingly raised among supportive widows who took refuge in religion from their frustrations as women in an oppressive society. But at the age of nine, Rachlin's father, whom she barely knew, met her at school without warning and brought her to Ahvaz to live with her birth family. Miserable in the new household, young Nahid was befriended by her American movie-obsessed sister Pari. Both sisters developed artistic ambitions, but only Nahid managed to escape the typical female fate, convincing her father to send her to college in the U.S. Less lucky is Pari, whose life of arranged marriage, divorce from an abusive husband and estrangement from her son ends in depression and early death. Exuding the melancholy of an outsider, this memoir gives American readers rare insight into Iranians' ambivalence toward the United States, the desire for American freedom clashing with resentment of American hegemony. (Oct. 5) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101007709
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/27/2007
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 338,567
  • File size: 624 KB

Meet the Author

Nahid Rachlin is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Jumping over Fire, Foreigner, Married to a Stranger, and The Heart's Desire, as well as a collection of short stories, Veils. Currently an associate fellow at Yale, Rachlin teaches at The New School and Unterberg Poetry Center in New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

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(9)

4 Star

(5)

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2006

    A Powerful Memoir

    This book kept me up all night. Among other things it gave me a glimpse into the inner workings of Iranian family life and the author¿s creative development. As a fan of Nahid Rachlin¿s fiction, I wanted to know more about her own life Persian Girls has given me an insight into that life and its emotional conflict. It reveals the suffering that many women, among them her sister, and the aunt who raised her as a child, endure in many Islamic cultures¿the limitations imposed on them by the legal system and their families, especially the husbands who rule over them with tyrannical power. The oppressiveness and the pain of separation the author endured when her father took her away from her aunt the only mother she knew as a child (and forced her to live with him and her biological mother and siblings) are deeply conveyed. And so is the strength the author found within herself that allowed her to break away from these restrictions and create another life in America.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2006

    Deeply Moving Memoir

    In this poignant,intensely personal and informative memoir Nahid Rachlin traces her life from her childhood under the Shah, through the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which she witnessed from America, where she was living at that point, to a bittersweet reunion with a family both shattered and healed by the tragedies that have befallen them. The way her life goes in a different direction from that of her beloved sister, as she remains in Iran and she comes to the U.S., offers great insights into the dynamics of the culture they lived in and how it affected each. It is a story of painful separations, heartbreaking losses, and hard-won freedoms. It has the same mesmerizing power as her novels, lingering in the mind after we have finished reading the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    What an amazing story that reads like a novel. I couldn't put th

    What an amazing story that reads like a novel. I couldn't put the book down, I had to find out what happened to Nahid and to her family. The sisterly relationship that Nahid had with Pari was like no other that I have read about - they had such a loving, strong bond. Even though I came from a country in which women are not treated like possessions, I can relate to some of the things that Ms. Rachlin went through ... leaving motherland and family as a young adult ... having to learn a new language, adjusting to a different culture, losing touch with loved ones due to the distance and political reasons ... living life in-between two worlds.

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  • Posted November 8, 2010

    Great Read!

    Amazing insight into the lives of Persian women.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    great book!

    In Persian Girls, a memoir told by Nahid Rachlin, she tells her account of growing up in Iran, coming to the united states, and going back to Iran to investigate her beloved sister¿s death. Nahid Rachlin is also the Author of Jumping over fire, Foreigner, The Hearth¿s Desire, Married to a stranger and a collection of short stories Veils. Currently she teaches at Multiple colleges and as an associate fellows at Yale University. Persian Girls, one of her latest works, is about her journey through hard struggles and rocky relationships with people in her life. One of the major themes in her memoir is to always be tenacious and never give in and give up. In order to prove to her father that she has what it takes to go to school in America, Nahid tries to excel in her studies as a student so she can try to escape from the bad home life. Another situation where she proves this lesson true is when she refuses to give into pressured sex when young men take interest in her and take her out. These were also people she could also be good friends with but after getting to know her new acquaintances she is proven wrong. Another example of this theme is that Nahid told her best friend not to give into the male dominated society she lived in. She acted like she was equal to boys around her and she never gave into what people thought about her even though she knew what she was doing was dangerous. A second major theme that is told through Nahid¿s memoir is that as you grow older and become more mature, the feelings or resentment you have had with another person will surpass and you will learn to forgive and forget. Throughout her life Nahid Rachlin had dealt with many misunderstandings with people within her family. Among these people were her parents, and her younger sister Manijeh. When Nahid was born she was promised to her aunt as a gift. All her life she was raised by her aunt named Maryam and had been accustomed to calling her mother. Nahid knew that she was not truly hers but she still loved Maryam. Unfortunately one day while she was at school her father comes, and growing up in a male dominate society, nobody questioned why she was taken away. Ever since then she was forced to live with her nuclear family and never go back to Maryam. Also, and ever since then she was never the same upbeat, playful or happy again. In her new home, she felt like it was not her home. In her new home she felt like she was living with strangers. All in all, after reading Nahid Rachlin¿s riveting tale, I can truly say that I have learned a lot. I definitely recommend this book because it¿s a good different cultural experience and shows many good themes in life that teach people perseverance. Persian Girls is a strong heartfelt story that is told by a strong voice. It is also a book that will open your eyes to the outside world and make you cherish what you already have if you have not experienced what Nahid had experienced. This story will also allow you to be grateful for living in a country where men and women are given equal rights, opportunities, and freedoms.

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    Posted February 16, 2011

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    Posted May 27, 2010

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    Posted December 29, 2009

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    Posted November 22, 2009

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    Posted December 17, 2013

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    Posted November 21, 2011

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