in her smash literary debut, 2003's
Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi established herself as the premier Persian memoirist. But whereas she was political before, in
Things i've Been Silent About now she gets personal. An iranian-born, British- and American-educated professor, Nafisi turns her analytical eye inward and her voice outward. "i no longer believe that we can keep silent. We never really do, mind you. in one way or another we articulate what has happened to us through the kind of people we become," she writes. She helps this process along by digging through artifacts: her father's diaries, photographs, memories of her mercurial mother's "fictions", and holds nothing back, not childhood assault, a disastrous first marriage, or even her father's romantic affairs, which, in some ways, she helped him conduct.
The memoir becomes even more intimate, thanks to the narration of Naila Azad. With her strong iranian accent and gentle delivery, Azad makes you feel as if it could be Nafisi herself reading her tale. Speaking in a natural voice, she makes the book seem not a book at all, but a story shared between friends. in moments of reflection, Azad slows her cadence, drawing out words, making them more poignant, sometimes dropping to a near whisper. To relate flashbacks of the author speaking as a young child, she makes her voice softer, more naïve. And yet, because the voice still comes from an adult, it's a compelling technique especially in Chapter 3, entitled "Learning to Lie". You get the sense the author doesn't know what she is doing just now, but that she knew all along. And though the political details the events leading up to the islamic Revolution of 1978-79, her father's imprisonment without trial, a frightening confrontation with fundamentalists who took issue with the author not covering her hair-are endlessly compelling and masterfully related, it is the details of Nafisi's family life, at once unique and universal, that make this a must-listen. Kelly Marages