Elektra in Tehran

Anita Desai in the New York Review of Books:

Nafisithingsx An ominous title. Opening the new book by the author of the phenomenally successful and greatly loved Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003), one wonders if it will contain further revelations about the revolution in Iran that she survived, and even triumphed over, by her passion—and her ability to convey that passion—for the classics of Western literature. Actually, it is a memoir of her life growing up in a well-to-do family in Iran, but one soon discovers that it, too, is an act of rebellion against a tyranny.

Unlike her first book, which displays a constant curiosity about and awareness of the world around her, in her memoir the world shrinks to

those fragile intersections—the places where the moments in an individual's private life and personality resonate with and reflect a larger, more universal story.

Here the silence referred to in the title is not that which a tyrannical state imposes on its citizens, or of the witnesses who choose not to speak, or of the victims who fear to speak—rather, it is about

the silences we indulge in about ourselves, our personal mythologies, the stories we impose upon our real lives.

Yet the imposition of such a tyranny—and the rebellion against it—can be the most powerfully influential element in a life. In Nafisi's case it is the tyranny of a mother—and so her memoir joins a long procession of books and films by daughters about their mothers and the battles they fought to assert their own womanly identities and tell their own womanly narratives.

More here.