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Shortly after the 1989 publication of Women Without Men in her native Iran, Shahrnush Parsipur was arrested and jailed for her frank and defiant portrayal of women’s sexuality. Now banned in Iran, this small masterpiece was eventually translated into several languages and introduces U.S. readers to the work of a brilliant Persian writer. With a tone that is stark, and bold Shortly after the 1989 publication of Women Without Men in her native Iran, Shahrnush Parsipur was arrested and jailed for her frank and defiant portrayal of women’s sexuality. Now banned in Iran, this small masterpiece was eventually translated into several languages and introduces U.S. readers to the work of a brilliant Persian writer. With a tone that is stark, and bold, Women Without Men creates an evocative allegory of life for contemporary Iranian women. In the interwoven destinies of five women, simple situations such as walking down a road or leaving the house become, in the tumult of post-WWII Iran, horrific and defiant as women escape the narrow confines of family and society only to face daunting new challenges. Now in political exile, Shahrnush Parsipur lives in the Bay Area. She is the author of several short story collections including Touba and the Meaning of Night.


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Shortly after the 1989 publication of Women Without Men in her native Iran, Shahrnush Parsipur was arrested and jailed for her frank and defiant portrayal of women’s sexuality. Now banned in Iran, this small masterpiece was eventually translated into several languages and introduces U.S. readers to the work of a brilliant Persian writer. With a tone that is stark, and bold Shortly after the 1989 publication of Women Without Men in her native Iran, Shahrnush Parsipur was arrested and jailed for her frank and defiant portrayal of women’s sexuality. Now banned in Iran, this small masterpiece was eventually translated into several languages and introduces U.S. readers to the work of a brilliant Persian writer. With a tone that is stark, and bold, Women Without Men creates an evocative allegory of life for contemporary Iranian women. In the interwoven destinies of five women, simple situations such as walking down a road or leaving the house become, in the tumult of post-WWII Iran, horrific and defiant as women escape the narrow confines of family and society only to face daunting new challenges. Now in political exile, Shahrnush Parsipur lives in the Bay Area. She is the author of several short story collections including Touba and the Meaning of Night.

30 review for Women Without Men: A Novel of Modern Iran

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Women without Men (‎Syracuse‬: ‎Syracuse university Press‬, ‎1998), Shahrnush Parsipur Five women set out to escape the oppressive restrictions of family and social life in contemporary Iran. A prostitute, a wealthy, middle-aged housewife, two seemingly desperate "old maids, " and a woman whose career ended after her boss asked her out share a common quest for independence that may be fulfilled in a garden villa. Through murder, suicide, even rape, as well as love, contemplation, and spiritual tr Women without Men (‎Syracuse‬: ‎Syracuse university Press‬, ‎1998), Shahrnush Parsipur Five women set out to escape the oppressive restrictions of family and social life in contemporary Iran. A prostitute, a wealthy, middle-aged housewife, two seemingly desperate "old maids, " and a woman whose career ended after her boss asked her out share a common quest for independence that may be fulfilled in a garden villa. Through murder, suicide, even rape, as well as love, contemplation, and spiritual transformation, these women escape the narrow confines of family and society, only to face new challenges. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه مارس سال 1989میلادی عنوان: زنان بدون مردان؛ نویسنده: شهرنوش پارسی پور؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، نشر قطره، 1368، در 140ص؛ چاپ دوم 1368؛ چاپ دیگر سوئد، باران، 1370، در 140ص؛ چاپ دیگر تورنتو، افرا: پگاه، 1378، در 140ص، شابک 1894256042؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایرانی - سده 20م دستهایم را در باغچه میکارم؛ ...؛ داستان، برداشتی از شعر «وهم سبز» روانشاد «فروغ فرخزاد» است (و البته جایی نیز اشارتی دارند)...؛ لابد همه میدانند، که بانوی کارگردان «شیرین نشاط»، فیلمی از همین کتاب، ساخته؛ و برنده ی جایزه «شیر نقره ای ونیز» نیز شده است نقل از کتاب، حرفهای مونس: «به فکر من زده بود، بروم به هند و چین و ماچین، دنیا را ببینم؛ خودم همه چیز را بفهمم، و درک کنم، و هی ننشینم، تا دیگران برایم بگویند: ال است و بل است، و گولم بزنند، و خرم کنند، و عمرم به سر برود، و به اندازه ی یک گاو نفهمیده باشم؛ البته میگویند خوشبخت آنکه کره خر آمد، و الاغ رفت...» پایان نقل تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 02/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    Oh great, I get to be a book club naysayer for the third time out of three, on the second book in a row that I voted for out of ten total potentials. I'm averaging 2.666 on club-related ratings here, which incidentally makes me happy because 666, but primarily makes me feel like Asshole McChoosy-pants. I hope the candidates I put forward all end up middling-to-sucky, or I'm sure going to look like a real taste snob. I swear I am not blindly obstinate. I double-swear I like books. Much. The truth Oh great, I get to be a book club naysayer for the third time out of three, on the second book in a row that I voted for out of ten total potentials. I'm averaging 2.666 on club-related ratings here, which incidentally makes me happy because 666, but primarily makes me feel like Asshole McChoosy-pants. I hope the candidates I put forward all end up middling-to-sucky, or I'm sure going to look like a real taste snob. I swear I am not blindly obstinate. I double-swear I like books. Much. The truth is that I was just really disappointed, so harshness in the face of that disappointment is a definite possibility. High hopes, I hads. We were attacking the sexual politics of theocracies! We were building an egalitarian world between worlds where fates converged and reformed into some mushroom-trippy Utopia! We were imbuing pressing social issues with reshaping flecks of surrealistic imagery! We were overzealously throwing around exclamation points! And yeah, all of those things are true (except the !'s, that was just me), but it was so heavy-handed in all regards that it didn't work in almost any regard. For me. Basically, this is like magical realism play-doh mixed with feminist screed play-doh, but not well enough to make a new and interesting color; more like when you lazily just mush the contents of the different tubs together and knead them, meh, a little bit, then suddenly get bored and go have a sandwich, dropping the half-reformed glob on the ground to dry out and get eaten by some kid with pica. Wow, I took that way too far, much like this book does with all its metaphors. Next thing you know my play-doh comparison will turn into a tree, and I'll have to get pregnant so I can feed it my breastmilk. Don't ask. Worse, it reads like it was translated by Ben Stein's larynx. They went to the gar-den. It was a lo-ve-ly gar-den. In the gar-den there was a gar-de-ner who gard-ened. Ran-dom mys-ti-cal crea-ture. Everything is so matter-of-fact, so explain-y that the reading voice in my head involuntarily ran itself through a vocoder and slapped on some off-kilter beat. And I should not be hearing electronica in my head when I am contemplating terrible things like forceful religious indoctrination, socioeconomic oppression, and sexual violence/servitude. I feel bad saying all this because it was phenomenally brave of Shahrnush Parsipur to even write, let alone publish this book in Iran in the first place, but book report honesty is the best policy. I think. I hope. I could chalk a lot of my complaints up to translation issues, and some of the more mystical imagery in this would make for very lovely paintings or eency-weency picture-book parables. Tacked all together, though, it just doesn't hold. I would very much like to see the film based on it, though, and if anyone else has, please do tell. Maybe we'll watch it at book club. In which I am the worst member ever.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    I read a review that claimed that this is not a feminist novel. If it were a feminist novel, the characters would not rely on men, they would assert themselves powerfully at all times, and their lives would be better for it. Umm, newsflash. A novel can be feminist without all its characters being feminists, strong women, and perfect all the time. That would be unrealistic and boring. Let's first understand that feminism is realism, i.e. realistic portrayal of women, including women who are not fe I read a review that claimed that this is not a feminist novel. If it were a feminist novel, the characters would not rely on men, they would assert themselves powerfully at all times, and their lives would be better for it. Umm, newsflash. A novel can be feminist without all its characters being feminists, strong women, and perfect all the time. That would be unrealistic and boring. Let's first understand that feminism is realism, i.e. realistic portrayal of women, including women who are not feminists, including women who are anti-feminists. And these are realistic women, despite the amount of magical realism, surrealism, and straight-up fantasy that also creeps in. In fact, it's the grim reality of their situation that makes these flights of fancy so powerful. This patriarchal system is all there is for the Iranian women in this novel, it is all they've ever known. For them to become full fledged feminists as we know it in the west would be unrealistic. But to see them oppressing each other, keeping each other in check, this was heartbreaking. You get a sense of the true ubiquity of this system. Simply having one's own will, being able to dream, to want something for oneself however tiny, say to turn into a tree, or to move away and start a community becomes a courageously feminist act. I did not love everything about this novel, the writing was uneven, and some of the fantasy elements seemed a bit too random for me... but I thought it was unique and interesting, and I definitely enjoyed reading it. A comparison of translations: Translation by Kamran Talattof and Jocelyn Sharlet: This translation was strangely veiled, like it was trying not to say things straight out. This made it much harder to understand. The rhythm of the sentences was shorter than the other translation. No footnotes. Introduction by Kamran Talatof: one of the most rubbish introductions to a book I've ever read. Including synopsis of entire plot. It reads like a high school book report plagiarised from wikipedia, including some details of the author's life and works, some very obvious interpretations of this book. Excerpt: Mahdokht's heart stopped. The girl, Fatemeh, at fifteen like a worldly woman, was at hte end of the greenhouse with Yadallah, the gardener. With his bald head and oozing eyes, it was difficult to look at him. The world around her went dark, and her legs began to tremble. She involuntarily clutched the edge of a table. But she could not take her eyes off them. She looked and looked until they saw her. The guy had begun to whimper. He wanted to escape but he couldn't He was mindlessly beating the girl. The girl extended her hand toward Mahdokht. Mahdokht ran out of the greenhouse. She didn't know what to do. She headed for the pool in a daze, and wanted to throw up. She washed her hands and sat on the bench. "What can I do?"Translation by Faridoun Farrokh: This translation was more straight forward. There were footnotes. Foreword by the filmmaker Shirin Neshat. Afterword by the author explaining where she got inspiration for each one of the characters. Excerpt:Her heart missed a beat. The servant girl, Fati, fifteen years old, but more resembling a streetwalker, lay at the far end of the greenhouse with Yadollah, the gardener, with a bald head and repulsive, red-rimmed eyes, panting, panting, panting. Mahdokht, near collapse and reaching for a shelf to steady herself, could not take her eyes off the scene. The man was the first to notice her. He let out a squeal and tried to disentangle himself from the embrace of the girl by hitting her in the face with one hand and reaching with the other for Mahdokht, who rushed out of the greenhouse and wandered aimlessly in the courtyard, fraught with nausea. She hurried to the pool, dipped her hands in the water, washing them compulsively. She then sat on the edge of the bedstead. "What shall I do?"

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sleepless Dreamer

    Becoming a tree in order to avoid life problems is definitely a 2020 mood. Review to come!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Re-read - still a wonderful book For the past few years, I have traveled to Washington DC and stayed a few days just to visit the museums. Plus, I live in Philly, so it’s like a two hour train trip. I’ve learned that the smaller Smithsonian tends to have the more interesting exhibits. I discovered a love for Whistler’s etchings at the Freer, and at the Hirshorn, I discovered that I do like some modern art and video installations. It was at the Hirshorn last summer that I heard of this book. Last Re-read - still a wonderful book For the past few years, I have traveled to Washington DC and stayed a few days just to visit the museums. Plus, I live in Philly, so it’s like a two hour train trip. I’ve learned that the smaller Smithsonian tends to have the more interesting exhibits. I discovered a love for Whistler’s etchings at the Freer, and at the Hirshorn, I discovered that I do like some modern art and video installations. It was at the Hirshorn last summer that I heard of this book. Last summer, the museum had a major exhibit of Shirin Neshat’s work, and if you are like I was at the time, you are going who. She is Iranian and is known for her photography and videos. If the show is anywhere near you, I highly recommend you go. Neshat’s art is powerful and beautiful. At one point in the show, there was a clip and significant verbiage about Neshat’s film adaptation of this novel. The book itself was not in the bookstore, so when I finally sat down to read it, it was with so trepidation that it would not live up to the hype in my head. It does. When one reads Women without Men, it is easy to understand why Parsipur is living in exile. It is a feminist book that will anger many conservatives, in particular conservative men in power, angry. Yet, for all the short space that it inhibits it is a work of sheer brilliance. I cannot thank Neshat and the Hirshorn enough for introducing me to this book. Women Without Men, despite its title, does in fact have men in it, and not all the men are bad. To call the book anti-male would be incorrect. Parsipur relates the lives of different women from different levels of society who came together briefly in a garden before going their separate ways. Each of the women, from the prostitute to the high society wife, has been constricted in some way by society. One of the brilliant aspects of the novel is that not all the women are likable. Perhaps the most accessible, and most challenging to power structure, is Munis who changes the most and becomes one of the fulcrums that the other women turn around (Mahdokht is the other. It is no surprise that these two women go though the most and the least changes). Her reaction upon learning something is just so human, even in this tale of magical realism. What happens to Munis and her eventual fate in many ways is the heart of the novel (and no surprise that part of the arc was the clip from the film shown in the Neshat exhibit). The fates of the women are in part dictated by the society in which they live as well as the roles forced upon them by that society. In many ways, the book references the Garden of Eden, but almost as a place of renewal and peace. It’s a beautiful novel.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kirstine

    Shahrnush Parsipur was - is - persecuted in Iran, where she’s from, for this book (among other things). Partly because she dares talk about, you know, sex, virginity, female sexuality. Topics that are not to be mentioned ever. ‘Women Without Men’ does reference the title of the Hemingway work ‘Men Without Women’. I haven’t read the latter, but in the afterword to this book, it says it’s a book where ultimately a life without women isn't particularly satisfying. The same (but in reverse) is the c Shahrnush Parsipur was - is - persecuted in Iran, where she’s from, for this book (among other things). Partly because she dares talk about, you know, sex, virginity, female sexuality. Topics that are not to be mentioned ever. ‘Women Without Men’ does reference the title of the Hemingway work ‘Men Without Women’. I haven’t read the latter, but in the afterword to this book, it says it’s a book where ultimately a life without women isn't particularly satisfying. The same (but in reverse) is the case of ‘Women Without Men’, in a way. It consists of five stories of five vastly different women, who nonetheless have a lot in common. They’re all confined by their family and society to a very narrow way of life. They all have very little freedom of movement or thought, and each strive, in their own way, to break their captivity and be free to pursue a different way of life. The separate storylines converge in the end and the women meet at a single house they help build and maintain together. In the house there’s also a gardener (incidentally a man, but of the somewhat invisible kind), who tends the garden where one of the women has planted herself in an attempt to become a tree. It’s a mixture of harsh reality and magical-realism. The magical elements present themselves without much ado and add depth and great character to the novel. The odd, fantastical elements are very poignant and quite stunning. The house they all live in and the life they share together may seem utopic, but it’s not the case at all. Having escaped the confines of their former position, whatever it was, and the men and norms that kept them trapped, they work steadily towards a new way of life. However, it’s not a life in female isolation; the solution is not an all-woman utopia. What these women need, what Parsipur tries to convey, is that they need this utopian space to learn to be free. It’s not the final stop. It’s where they unlearn all the restrictions that’s been put on them, and reflect on what they desire to get out of life. For some it means transcending the human body, to transform into nature and start anew, to some it means returning to life almost as it was before, but all of them with a new spiritual freedom. It’s not, in the end, a feasible project to live without men, nor is it possible. Women without men is rather women without the narrow idea of what a woman can and should be, an empty place she can shape as her own, where she can find herself. It’s an odd novel, because it moves in so many ways, and the ending may seem somewhat disappointing or anticlimactic, but there’s a strength to it, an insistence that women are allowed to become their own people, to talk about sex and virginity and politics. Each character present a different story, each needing the same and separate things, each getting their own ending, and the result is a complex, strange and wondrous novel. It’s very different from the video installating – the art piece based on the book – that I’ve seen. In the videos the women never meet, each story remains separate, and there are alterations to each of them, but both novel and film are very powerful means of telling such a story. I recommend the book, but I also recommend the art installation, should you ever come across it. It’s a lot harsher, but very rewarding. Original review: Holy shit. I've seen the film(s) based on this book. It was an art installation at Aros, the museum in my city (Aarhus Museum of Art). I had no idea it was a book first. I thought the title sounded familiar and this is why. It was an incredibly moving experience to see it. The different stories were split onto three huge screens in a dark, black room, so you got to watch them in random order. They were harsh, but beautiful. I hope it's still there.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kavita

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I can't claim to say I really understood anything in this book. Five women, whose lives intersect, are drawn together and crazy, crazy things happen to them. Mahdokht is dissatisfied with her life and wants to do more with it. Then she catches the maid having sex with the gardener, which disgusts her. And then, she becomes a tree. The tree is fed with breast milk and finally burst into seeds and scatters. Fai'za is slightly more sensible and remains human. But that's about it. She lusts after her I can't claim to say I really understood anything in this book. Five women, whose lives intersect, are drawn together and crazy, crazy things happen to them. Mahdokht is dissatisfied with her life and wants to do more with it. Then she catches the maid having sex with the gardener, which disgusts her. And then, she becomes a tree. The tree is fed with breast milk and finally burst into seeds and scatters. Fai'za is slightly more sensible and remains human. But that's about it. She lusts after her friend's brother, Amir. Said brother kills friend and she helps him hush it up. In the end, she marries the brother and becomes his concubine. Munis is Amir's sister. She dies and then returns to life and then is murdered by her brother. She then returns to life and can read people's minds. She becomes a whirlwind for seven years and finally becomes a schoolteacher. Zarrinkolah is a prostitute who sees headless men everywhere. She marries the gardener and then glows with light and gives birth to a flower. Then she and the gardener go up in a puff of smoke. Farrokhlaqa is the most understandable of all the characters. She becomes a widow, wants more out of life, tries her hand at different things and finally marries a powerful man and the two achieve things together. Then, there is the gardener (a man) who helps these women. Don't ask me what it all meant. I can only assume the author was on drugs. Can't even understand why this book got banned in the first place. Maybe they don't want women becoming trees or going up in smoke or whatever.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Isadora Paiva

    I guess magical realism just isn't for me. Especially when I wasn't expecting it. I read this because I saw it in a list of feminist books written by women around the world, and since I'd never read something in this vein by an Iranian author (especially one who was improsined for writing this very work), I was looking forward to gaining some insight into Iranian culture through her eyes. The expectation for something more realist certainly didn't help, but even after I had readjusted my expecta I guess magical realism just isn't for me. Especially when I wasn't expecting it. I read this because I saw it in a list of feminist books written by women around the world, and since I'd never read something in this vein by an Iranian author (especially one who was improsined for writing this very work), I was looking forward to gaining some insight into Iranian culture through her eyes. The expectation for something more realist certainly didn't help, but even after I had readjusted my expectations, I couldn't bring myself to like it. The fantastic elements all felt so random, and the chracters have very little depth.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is a really wild novel, unlike any you'll ever read. Parsipur was banned in her native Iran; last I knew she was living in the States (she's taught at Brown U.). Parsipur deals with the limited choices women have in Iran, the violence they face for being raped, rebellious, for breaking even in small ways with the constrictive norm. The novella cannot of course take these issues head-on and so does so in a wildly imaginative way. Parsipur's women find their own haven--one woman becomes a tre This is a really wild novel, unlike any you'll ever read. Parsipur was banned in her native Iran; last I knew she was living in the States (she's taught at Brown U.). Parsipur deals with the limited choices women have in Iran, the violence they face for being raped, rebellious, for breaking even in small ways with the constrictive norm. The novella cannot of course take these issues head-on and so does so in a wildly imaginative way. Parsipur's women find their own haven--one woman becomes a tree--with a gardener as the only male on the grounds. The novella is what we term in the west 'magical realism,' as if the great Latin American writers own it or invented it...but of course such imaginative flights from so-called reality have long existed in non-western literature and in fact can be a necessity as a form of expression in repressive, censored societies. The great Iranian filmmaker, Shirin Neshat (I hope I have her name right), has made the novel into a film, with mixed results (from what I've read; I've not yet seen it).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    This reminded me of Herta Muller's writing - the same sense of the truth being hidden inside layers of allegory - not surprising since they are both writing out of a culture of censorship and oppression. However, I found Parsipur's allegories easier to understand. This reminded me of Herta Muller's writing - the same sense of the truth being hidden inside layers of allegory - not surprising since they are both writing out of a culture of censorship and oppression. However, I found Parsipur's allegories easier to understand.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bjorn

    In a way, of course, the title is a lie. Women without men is an impossibility as long as women are defined first and foremost by their relationships to men, which obviously is no less true given the setting of the novel, but hardly unique to it either. Women Without Men tell the story of a half-dozen women circling this issue while rarely able to confront it head-on - even if they do, even if they kill or die or return from death with the power to read minds or turn into a tree (yes, it's that k In a way, of course, the title is a lie. Women without men is an impossibility as long as women are defined first and foremost by their relationships to men, which obviously is no less true given the setting of the novel, but hardly unique to it either. Women Without Men tell the story of a half-dozen women circling this issue while rarely able to confront it head-on - even if they do, even if they kill or die or return from death with the power to read minds or turn into a tree (yes, it's that kind of novel) there's always invisible barriers both within and without, a limit to the world in which they're allowed to exist. And since they have to share it, as women, of course, they sometimes find it easier to turn on each other, to find (real) differences rather than similarities. Nothing breeds contempt better than seeing your own limits in a mirror. Nevertheless... (The subtitle is interesting. The book is mostly set pre-revolution (I think), yet it's explicitly called "a novel of modern Iran". The characters live in a modern world, they compare themselves and others to US movie stars, they speak openly (within closed doors) about sex, they inhabit a modern world - one that's supposedly been swept away by revolution, yet from this POV, doesn't look much different. Like any writer working under state censorship, there's sadly only so much you can get away with by claiming "What? I'm writing about how bad the previous regime was.") Parsipur's writing (in Farrokh's translation) is odd; at once highly symbolic and fairytale-like, and matter-of-factly furious, in a way that sometimes works wonders, and sometimes makes it feel as if I'm reading two novels at once. At least one of them is very good, though.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tahira

    Women Without Men appears more like a poem than a novel. It is so infused with symbolism that one must either suspend reality, or imagine what Parsipur was trying to convey about the social and political climate at that point in Iran's history. Thankfully, the afterward that accompanied the edition of the novel that I read was most useful when tackling the latter task. Women Without Men is unlike any other text I have read, and yet it's brevity makes it seem so light and simple, as though the sto Women Without Men appears more like a poem than a novel. It is so infused with symbolism that one must either suspend reality, or imagine what Parsipur was trying to convey about the social and political climate at that point in Iran's history. Thankfully, the afterward that accompanied the edition of the novel that I read was most useful when tackling the latter task. Women Without Men is unlike any other text I have read, and yet it's brevity makes it seem so light and simple, as though the story came in on a gust of wind and was then absorbed into the air before one could even process it. Perhaps that's my attempt at waxing poetic, nonetheless, Women Without Men is well worth the read--if not because of the story itself, than because of the courage it took (and continues to take) to be the author of such a controversial and socially provocative novel. It is a sad but honest portrayal of women's experience in a unjust, oppressive society, and yet it is still hopeful, if only in a bittersweet way.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Cihodariu

    I liked this particular brand of magical realism. It doesn't resemble the Southern American style too much, and it's imbued enough with the mythos of both old and new Iran to make it super-interesting. I see that the book is praised as being a feminist manifesto in fiction form, but that many people, who were reading it for this reason, were disappointed after discovering that the feminist message isn't the main message of the book. This didn't bother me. It's not that the story is not feminist I liked this particular brand of magical realism. It doesn't resemble the Southern American style too much, and it's imbued enough with the mythos of both old and new Iran to make it super-interesting. I see that the book is praised as being a feminist manifesto in fiction form, but that many people, who were reading it for this reason, were disappointed after discovering that the feminist message isn't the main message of the book. This didn't bother me. It's not that the story is not feminist enough, it's just that it is inherently so, without caring to be. It's a story weaved from the strange dreams of women, and when living in an oppressed society, it's inevitable that you will have feminist themes seeping through and watering those dreams. But it's subtle and this was apparently disappointing for some. As a final note, I finished this book at night on the 7th of August, closed it and went to sleep, and in the next morning, it felt like hell broke loose for me and brought me face to face with many of the issues that women face in my own society, in Eastern Europe. In a way, this felt ironic and surreal.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    I must say, I expected a whole different kind of story from the description I read about the book. And a big surprise waited for me: it is so full of magical elements that your head is spinning and you get the message only when you reach the very last pages. I guess all those literature classes from high school, stuffed with allegories, metaphors and symbols, showed their utility now :D (view spoiler)[ A woman who transforms herself into a tree, is being fed with breast milk and explodes into a I must say, I expected a whole different kind of story from the description I read about the book. And a big surprise waited for me: it is so full of magical elements that your head is spinning and you get the message only when you reach the very last pages. I guess all those literature classes from high school, stuffed with allegories, metaphors and symbols, showed their utility now :D (view spoiler)[ A woman who transforms herself into a tree, is being fed with breast milk and explodes into a rain of seeds, another who becomes transparent and gives birth to a water lily, a 3rd one is resurrected from the dead twice and become a mind reader, a 4th who sees only men bodies, without heads (she is a prostitute and is being purified after crying for 12 hours) and the 5th who owns the garden in which all their destinies converge into self-fulfillment - all symbols related to innocence and pure, new life. (hide spoiler)] Mainly, it's about one's determination, the ability to take your own life into your own hands and do something about it... in Iran. And again I found myself being astonished by how can someone do time in prison because writing something like this... The same happened with Rushdie's Verses (I did not finished it, but I read more than half) - even better, the book the got him a death sentence... No comment.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Qian

    Women Without Men is a short novel made up of stories about five women who come together in a house with a garden in Karaj, outside Tehran. They include a wealthy middle-class wife and a prostitute. Parsipur's stories involve the challenges women face in trying to live without men in Iran, featuring a debate about whether virginity is a curtain or a hole, rape, and the enforcement of notions of honour by women as well as men, as well as more everyday concerns. The stories are about people, not id Women Without Men is a short novel made up of stories about five women who come together in a house with a garden in Karaj, outside Tehran. They include a wealthy middle-class wife and a prostitute. Parsipur's stories involve the challenges women face in trying to live without men in Iran, featuring a debate about whether virginity is a curtain or a hole, rape, and the enforcement of notions of honour by women as well as men, as well as more everyday concerns. The stories are about people, not ideas. Aspects of the stories are fantastic, involving women turning into trees, reborn and able to read minds, or able to fly. And only one is anchored in any kind of historical context, set during riots in 1953, and that only incidentally. They have something of the fairy tale about them. Parsipur's characters are too immediate to be primarily symbolic or allegorical. Women Without Men offers a storyteller's entertainment and a sampling of women's lives in Iran in the 1980s. What I thought was interesting about the author: A forty page afterword by Persis Karim gives an account of Parsipur's life and offers a brief outline of the stories. Parsipur went into exile in the United States in 1994, five years after Women Without Men was published, and banned, in Iran.

  16. 5 out of 5

    A.R. McKenna

    Women Without Men breaks my heart. It was difficult to read at times because of the stark violence and discrimination against women. As a Western woman, I am aware of the privileges I have over other women in the world. This was made very clear to me when I read the stories of these five women. The magical realism in this novel is amazing and works so well with the plot and the characters. I absolutely love the storyline and the way the garden acts as a catalyst for change. The change is really Women Without Men breaks my heart. It was difficult to read at times because of the stark violence and discrimination against women. As a Western woman, I am aware of the privileges I have over other women in the world. This was made very clear to me when I read the stories of these five women. The magical realism in this novel is amazing and works so well with the plot and the characters. I absolutely love the storyline and the way the garden acts as a catalyst for change. The change is really a metamorphosis for a lot of the characters. Despite the darkness and complete despair of the novel, the ending is really breathtaking. There's the promise of freedom and liberation from a repressed world where women are chained not only to men but to the domestic sphere. Even though the novel is rather short, it packed so much emotion and passion. I am so happy that Women Without Men was translated into English. It is quite the journey to see these women grow and find themselves. Even though it is extremely sad and maddening to read how they are mistreated and scorned, it is also inspiring to see them survive these horrible hardships. I highly recommend this novel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bob Lopez

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4.5. Great book about a group of disparate women pushed too far. I loved the elements of magical realism, seeds of which are planted throughout but don’t really blossom until a certain double resurrection. The women coming together in the house/garden was deeply satisfying but all too short-lived. Their individual post-scripts really rushed the ending for me; I wanted more! I can’t wait to see the movie (trailer here: https://youtu.be/rB95i9Ro6-s), and I just found another book by this author tr 4.5. Great book about a group of disparate women pushed too far. I loved the elements of magical realism, seeds of which are planted throughout but don’t really blossom until a certain double resurrection. The women coming together in the house/garden was deeply satisfying but all too short-lived. Their individual post-scripts really rushed the ending for me; I wanted more! I can’t wait to see the movie (trailer here: https://youtu.be/rB95i9Ro6-s), and I just found another book by this author trans into English but is around 350 pages—hopefully all the more to enjoy!

  18. 4 out of 5

    sidra j.

    This was good. I am not a huge fan of magical realism but this was a surprise. I am not going to comment on the writing because this is a translation. The story follows 5 women & we follow each of their stories through different chapters. Then, their lives intersect later in the book. They all have their separate endings that weren't really satisfying for me. But, yes, I'd definitely recommend this. Also, I don't know about other translations but this one was approved by Shahrnush Parsipur. This was good. I am not a huge fan of magical realism but this was a surprise. I am not going to comment on the writing because this is a translation. The story follows 5 women & we follow each of their stories through different chapters. Then, their lives intersect later in the book. They all have their separate endings that weren't really satisfying for me. But, yes, I'd definitely recommend this. Also, I don't know about other translations but this one was approved by Shahrnush Parsipur.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrey Chu

    It is very beautiful and poetic. One can also call this piece frank. However I am still struggling to unite the pieces together into a comprehensive story. Also I am not completely sure how to make sense of these stories withing the feminist narrative.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pixie

    I enjoyed this so much! I wasnt expecting the speculative elements, but it had that balance of realism with a bit of magical elements in it that i love. Real good.

  21. 5 out of 5

    mentalexotica

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Well, damn. I could not have chosen a finer book to end this terrible year with. Some years ago I watched Women Without Men - the film that was made by Shiran Neshat in 2009. At the time, with little or no context, it seemed like a strange if not grim and fantastical tale filled with incredible characters that I could not envision as part of the Iran I knew, and yet, were all exactly the kind of idiosyncratic curiosities I did associate with Iran. Fast forward to 2019 and I find this book I thin Well, damn. I could not have chosen a finer book to end this terrible year with. Some years ago I watched Women Without Men - the film that was made by Shiran Neshat in 2009. At the time, with little or no context, it seemed like a strange if not grim and fantastical tale filled with incredible characters that I could not envision as part of the Iran I knew, and yet, were all exactly the kind of idiosyncratic curiosities I did associate with Iran. Fast forward to 2019 and I find this book I think to myself, I remember the movie but I’m not so sure I want to go through this again. I did. And as the cliche goes: The book is so much better. And that is saying a lot because Shirin Neshat is a phenomenal artist and the film is nothing less than a painting in celluloid. Coming back to the book: it is a thing of wonder. Characters that seem to jump out of folk tales and legend: people willing themselves to turn into trees, prostitutes that give birth to flowers, and a gardener that breathes life into anything he touches. Magical realism set against the backdrop of a very real Iran - political protests, misogyny, human rights violations, poverty, and women struggling to find a foothold in society. This is a seminal work of feminist writing cloaked beautifully within the easy boundaries of fiction. In this hard-to-imagine melange of characters and stories emerges a not-so-complex web of connection between the living and the dead. this book delivers pure, unadulterated joy. Keeping tired and worn out cliches firmly in check, I will say it is a book about hope, truth, and the ultimate reckoning into which each one of us has to ultimately surrender.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    I recently saw an exhibit at the Hirshhorn featuring Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat. I was intrigued by the title of a book, this book, that inspired Neshat's film of the same name. Many of the her other pieces dealt with gender segregation in modern Iranian society, the role of women in political movements, and what an individual does when one's choices are limited. So I checked out the book that inspired the film and understood why the two exiled artists were suited for collaboration. H I recently saw an exhibit at the Hirshhorn featuring Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat. I was intrigued by the title of a book, this book, that inspired Neshat's film of the same name. Many of the her other pieces dealt with gender segregation in modern Iranian society, the role of women in political movements, and what an individual does when one's choices are limited. So I checked out the book that inspired the film and understood why the two exiled artists were suited for collaboration. Here, all the main characters are restricted by a society that limits women's freedoms, but also undergo simple human struggles. When they flee their circumstances to arrive at an (almost) all-women oasis on the outskirts of Tehran, one might expect that to be the end of the story; a happy-ever-after feminist utopia. But the fates of the characters are tempered and ambiguous and they find themselves back in the male-dominated world anyway, although they've found new ways to inhabit it. This book also pairs really well with Ana Lily Amirpour's fantastic 2014 film "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" in which a hijab-clad vampire preys on depraved men in a fictional Iranian town.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nic

    Review originally posted at Eve's Alexandria, 2012. -- Shahrnush Parsipur's splendidly subversive, funny and bitter little novella, Women Without Men (Zanan bedun mardan, 1989; translated from the Persian in 1998 by Kamran Talattof and Jocelyn Sharlet) is set in 1953, and tells the intertwined stories of five different Iranian women. Each is introduced in her own little vignette, and then is gradually drawn in towards the rest through both the machinations of the plot and, thematically, through th Review originally posted at Eve's Alexandria, 2012. -- Shahrnush Parsipur's splendidly subversive, funny and bitter little novella, Women Without Men (Zanan bedun mardan, 1989; translated from the Persian in 1998 by Kamran Talattof and Jocelyn Sharlet) is set in 1953, and tells the intertwined stories of five different Iranian women. Each is introduced in her own little vignette, and then is gradually drawn in towards the rest through both the machinations of the plot and, thematically, through the similarities of their experiences: the various familial and broader social restrictions - expressed both through small, everyday slights and larger episodes of violence - that shape how women are able to live their lives and relate to other people. It's told with an arresting mix of anger, empathy, and a sense of humour that ranges from the wry to the surreal. By way of an example of the latter, here is a snapshot of the train of thought of Mahdokht, the first of the women we meet: Both the government and Mahdokht were worried about the children. If only Mahdokht had a thousand hands and could knit five hundred sweaters a week. Every two hands could knit one sweater, so that would make five hundred sweaters. But a person cannot have a thousand hands, especially Mahdokht, who liked the winter and liked to go for walks in the afternoon. Besides, it would take at least five hours just to put a thousand gloves on. "No, with five hundred of my hands I could put gloves on the other five hundred. Three minutes at the most." These are not the problems. They will eventually be solved. It's the government's responsibility, they should open a factory to knit sweaters. I love this passage: Mahdokht's big-hearted, impulsive urge to help, the impractical extravagance of her (imagined) gesture, and her awareness of this impracticality leading into the half-earnest, half-briskly amused little debate with herself over how she can put gloves on all those hands. At the same time, a more serious point emerges: repeatedly, throughout the book, we are shown characters mired in trivialities and pettiness, at the expense of their own best interests. I don't mean to imply that people must spend every waking moment thinking Serious Thoughts, but Mahdokht's distraction here, while funny, is expressive of the difficulty all these women have in thinking (and speaking) clearly about themselves, their desires, and the world around them. Time and again, Parsipur suggests that this is not because they're women, and thus (as is assumed by the world at large) naturally inclined to be frivolous and speak only in 'gossip', etc etc. It's because they lack the tools to articulate what they want. Their lives are so circumscribed that they have only a limited idea of what their best interests might be, or even that they're entitled to have interests of their own. (I should probably note again, here, for clarity's sake, that this is set in 1953, i.e. well before the 1979 Islamic Revolution which often gets the sole blame for Iranian women's oppression.) Mahdokht, an unmarried teacher, is a mass of longing and vulnerability, trapped by the cruel contradictions of a world in which women are condemned to a perpetual childhood until and unless they marry, forbidden the adult status and the freedom to run her own household afforded by marriage. Living alone seems to be right out for anyone except a widow or a prostitute, one each of whom feature among Parsipur's five women. (view spoiler)[Of course, the prohibition on intimacy between men and women affects both sexes, but unlike a man in her situation, Mahdokht has absolutely no avenue to explore sexual desire and remain respectable: she cannot pay a surreptitious visit to a prostitute, and when her boss, Mr. Ehteshami, uses his authority over her to try to cajole her into a relationship with him, she could not indulge even if she wanted to. An obsession with female purity is drilled into women from an early age, through a host of improbable metaphors aimed at hiding the reality of women's lack of freedom to determine what they do with their own bodies: Munis was staring at the flowers in the carpet. Then she said, "Virginity is a curtain, my mother says. If a girl jumps down from a height she’ll damage her virginity. It’s a curtain, it can be torn." "What are you talking about? It’s a hole. It’s narrow, and then it becomes wide." The way women are complicit in this system, inflicting on their daughters and peers the same restrictions that they have suffered through, is also seen in Mahdokht's story. It may be argued that this is a preventative measure, an attempt to protect daughters against the inevitabilities of the world they live in. Yet Mahdokht's reaction to discovering a young woman having illicit sex with a gardener, while she is out walking in the garden she describes in the quotation at the top of the post, is a confused mixture: her first impulse combines disgust with an urge to protect the girl by keeping it secret, but a certain vindictive, half-envious anger sets in, and she imagines with an unbecoming glee the fate that might befall the wayward young woman: The sound of Fatemeh's shrill laughter came from the end of the garden. She had taken the children out to play, and God only knew what kind of games she was teaching them. Mahdokht paced back and forth in her room, beating the door and walls with her fists. She was worried about the children. "I hope she's pregnant so that they kill her," she thought. It would be good if she were pregnant. All her brothers would descend on her and beat her to death. How good that would be. Then the children would not be corrupted. If I can't have that, why should she get away with it? Unfreedom has left Mahdokht half-crazed. Again, like Munis, the trigger for her decision to finally break with social convention - and, as it turns out, with the conventions of the mimetic fiction story she initially seemed to be part of - is thinking about a metaphor of virginity. "My virginity is like a tree", she thinks suddenly. "I'm a tree. I must plant myself." And so she does: She would become thousands and thousands of branches. She would cover the entire world. Americans would buy her shoots and take them to California. They would call the forest of Mahdokht the forest of Mahdekat. Gradually they would pronounce her name so many times until it would become Maduk in some places and Maaduk in others. Then four hundred years later the linguists, with their veins standing out in their foreheads like twigs, would debate over her and prove that the two words come from the root Madeek which is of African origin. Then the biologists would object that a tree that grows in cold climates could not grow in Africa. Mahdokht banged her head on the wall again and again until she broke into tears. Between sobs she thought that this year she would definitely take a trip to Africa. She would go to Africa so that she could grow. She wanted to be a tree in a warm climate. She wanted to, and it is always desire that drives one to madness. This episode happens about a dozen pages into the novel, and it serves as a statement of intent with regards to how Parsipur intends to engage with her subject: a woman transformed by her rage and desire into something rich and strange; a series of portraits of women's oppression sublimated into surreal imagery and sometimes savagely dark humour. A similar tone infuses the other vignettes. Each women's life offers another facet of the ways that prevailing sexual mores of 1950s Iran infantilise and damage women - poisoning relations between women, as Mahdokht's case shows, but also relations between women and their male relatives. Munis is 38 years old, but her unmarried status gives her brother absolute authority over her, and means that her behaviour reflects upon him: "It's not a day for a woman to go out alone." "It's not that bad, Amir." He frowned. "It doesn't make sense for a woman to go out in the first place. Home is for women, the outside world is for men." In this particular instance, it is indeed not a good day for anyone to be out; there is a riot raging in the streets, most likely in response to the American- and British-backed coup that overthrew Mossadegh in this same year. (That this is never directly stated in the novel - Amir, of course, feels no need to explain his reasoning to his sister - is a reflection of the simple fact that none of the women appear to know what is going on, another sign of the way their horizons are constrained.) But Amir's wish to generalise the point raises a red flag. And indeed, when Munis eventually disobeys him and leaves the house, staying away for several days, her brother kills her for what he calls her "shameless" conduct. In a different novel, this might have been the tragic - and/or slightly prurient - climax. But Parsipur once again introduces an edge of the surreal to the proceedings which both leavens the horror to some degree, and also helps to emphasise, through the contrast it offers, how routine and mundane and all-pervasive this sort of violence is. For one thing, this isn't the first time Munis has died in the novel. In an arresting passage a little earlier on, we track Munis's turmoil as she struggles to get past the revolutionary idea that virginity might not be a curtain, after all: Munis thought about how for thirty-eight years she had been looking out the window at the little garden, assuming that virginity was a curtain. When she was eight years old, they had told her that God would never forgive a girl who had lost her virginity. Now it had been three days and two nights since she found out that virginity is a hole, not a curtain. Something inside of her had broken. She was filled with a cold rage. She recalled how, when she was a child, she used to gaze longingly at the trees, wishing that just once she could climb one. But she never had, out of fear for her virginity. Ultimately, Munis doesn't merely leave her brother's house; she throws herself from it. Or rather, she leans forward out of the window, letting herself fall out. "Five seconds later", we're told, "she was lying flat on her back on the alley pavement. But her eyes were still open, looking up at the clear blue sky." This marks a rebirth for her; she spends the next three days wandering the streets quite unharmed, reading, over and over again, a book she finds by chance on a roadside bookstall about sex and the body. It's a liberating, uplifting interlude ("On the third day she looked up. The trees and sunshine and streets all had new meanings for her. She had grown up") - but it is, indeed, just an interlude, and one that ends with her murder. But the murder, too, is offset with surreal farce. As Amir stands over his sister's body, knife in hand and paralysed by indecision over what to do next, no fewer than three people - his mother, his father, the maid - enter the room, take in the scene, scream, and collapse into a dead faint. Only Faizeh - the third of Parispur's unmarried virgins, a sort-of friend of Munis who really only hangs out with her because she has the hots for Amir - keeps her head, albeit in a callous way. In another example of women betraying other women in service to internalised patriarchal oppression, Faizeh promptly helps Amir bury Munis's body, although the narrative can't resist telling us that Faizeh's hope that Amir will marry her is due to be dashed, because he has a younger and (he thinks) more pliable target in mind. (Almost) equally promptly, Munis then resurrects again, and Faizeh finds herself digging her now highly gnomic, mind-reading ex-friend up. So that's all utterly bonkers then. Further moments of pitch-black humour include a pair of men getting mown down by a surprise!truck just after they've finished raping two young women; and Farrokhlaqa, the sole married woman in Parsipur's group, being so disconcerted by the unexpected event of her husband showing a hint of kindness to her one day ("She was certain that he was planning something") that she reacts out of alarmed reflex and inadvertantly pushes him down the stairs to his death. The prostitute Zarrinkolah, meanwhile, goes through a period of being visited by inexplicably headless men ("From that day on, all of the customers were headless. Zarrinkolah didn't dare say a word about it"), then leaves the profession behind to visit a shrine and emerge, touchingly, as "a small woman of twenty-six with a heart as big as the sea". Later she has a healthy relationship, gets pregnant, turns transparent, and gives birth to a lily. It is Farrokhlaqa who brings the women together, using her freedom as a widow to buy the garden in which Mahdokht is planted and turn it, for a time, into a haven where women might live without men. The result is by no means utopian: the women do not automatically get along just because they're women, and Farrokhlaqa and Zarrinkolah, at least, find at length that it is possible for them to have more egalitarian, or at least not actively oppressive, relations with men. This, I think, is central to Parsipur's portrait of her characters: that desire can be a vitally important and self-affirming part of life for many women; fulfilling and taking pleasure in desire can be a way for women to take control of their bodies and thus their selves. Mahdokht the tree, meanwhile, underlines this point as the seasons change in the garden; she sprouts, flowers, fruits, and ultimately connects everyone who visits the garden: The gardener went away, and the tree started to sing. All over the garden, the guests fell silent. It was as if there was a drop of water seeping down into the ground, and all of the people were within this one drop, which was like an ocean containing them all. The drop that was like an ocean went down to the depths of the erath, where it mingled with the sensation of the soil, millions of particles were the guests in the water and the soil, in a dance that began and would never end. (hide spoiler)]

  24. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    A very quick read, and extremely allegorical...a bit too much for my taste, really, but very powerful because of it. I think part of my appreciation for the book stems from my respect for the author and the opposition (including inprisonment) that she has had to endure. And the imagery is really beautiful -- which is probably why Shirin Neshat decided to make the four short films for Prospect 1 based on this novella...which is what I saw and led me to this book. Of course now I want to read Hemi A very quick read, and extremely allegorical...a bit too much for my taste, really, but very powerful because of it. I think part of my appreciation for the book stems from my respect for the author and the opposition (including inprisonment) that she has had to endure. And the imagery is really beautiful -- which is probably why Shirin Neshat decided to make the four short films for Prospect 1 based on this novella...which is what I saw and led me to this book. Of course now I want to read Hemingway's Men Without Women....

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    My friend gave this to me; I wouldn't have known about it otherwise. It's muted writing, with a slight magical realism to it. I find myself reflecting on it further now that I've read The Bookseller of Kabul. The grave oppression that is evident in the nonfiction book is softened here, but there's also a peculiar affective flatness to the writing. It's as though the beauty and subversiveness of the ideas, given the cultural context from which the book came, had to be framed in an understated man My friend gave this to me; I wouldn't have known about it otherwise. It's muted writing, with a slight magical realism to it. I find myself reflecting on it further now that I've read The Bookseller of Kabul. The grave oppression that is evident in the nonfiction book is softened here, but there's also a peculiar affective flatness to the writing. It's as though the beauty and subversiveness of the ideas, given the cultural context from which the book came, had to be framed in an understated manner.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Atimia Atimia

    It was okay. There was a good joke in there, but the surrealism just never really worked for me. It was kind of just stated as a fact that had to be accounted for, without really drawing you into anything that felt magical or strange. The transformations and all that didn't really seem to carry much significance either, but that could very well be my lack of understanding. It's basically a story where a vast majority of men is horrible, but when it comes down to it, the women don't really get al It was okay. There was a good joke in there, but the surrealism just never really worked for me. It was kind of just stated as a fact that had to be accounted for, without really drawing you into anything that felt magical or strange. The transformations and all that didn't really seem to carry much significance either, but that could very well be my lack of understanding. It's basically a story where a vast majority of men is horrible, but when it comes down to it, the women don't really get along either. Makes me wonder why ''Feminist Press'' would be so interested in publishing it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Klincik

    Strong female characters in a repressive environment. It was an interesting look at the Iranian culture in recent decades. I always find it shocking to see how little value is given to a woman's life in that culture. Though the story dealt with very heavy themes, the interweaving of humor and magic realism left me feeling hopeful for their futures. The ending left me breathless. I may not have loved the entire book, but I LOVED the ending. Strong female characters in a repressive environment. It was an interesting look at the Iranian culture in recent decades. I always find it shocking to see how little value is given to a woman's life in that culture. Though the story dealt with very heavy themes, the interweaving of humor and magic realism left me feeling hopeful for their futures. The ending left me breathless. I may not have loved the entire book, but I LOVED the ending.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cornelia

    Well, it was an interesting book (I don't understand why the author was jailed for it, I don't see anything that could be disruptive in this book). I came with different expectations when I started it... Now I see it more as a metaphor for women's lives in Iran. One of the women turns into a tree, to be free to wander the world, other accidently kills her husband... Either way, they seek a safe heaven, to be free, but ultimately this is not possible. Well, it was an interesting book (I don't understand why the author was jailed for it, I don't see anything that could be disruptive in this book). I came with different expectations when I started it... Now I see it more as a metaphor for women's lives in Iran. One of the women turns into a tree, to be free to wander the world, other accidently kills her husband... Either way, they seek a safe heaven, to be free, but ultimately this is not possible.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fatemeh

    The translation on this reads really awkward most of the time and makes it harder to wrap your head around what’s going on. There were so many instances in which I tried to think of what the actual phrasing was in Farsi that lead to its translation because it just didn’t flow right sometimes. I think I’m definitely going to try reading this again in Farsi.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rikke Henneberg

    This is a delightful, if as time strange little book. It mixes magical realism with gender politics to great effect. The Danish translation feels very true to the original prose and is beautiful. The book is very grounded in 1953's Iran and the magical elements underscore the predicaments of the women rather than detract from them in my opinion. This is a delightful, if as time strange little book. It mixes magical realism with gender politics to great effect. The Danish translation feels very true to the original prose and is beautiful. The book is very grounded in 1953's Iran and the magical elements underscore the predicaments of the women rather than detract from them in my opinion.

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