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Touba and the Meaning of Night
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About the Author

Born in Iran in 1946, Shahrnush Parsipur began her career as a fiction writer and producer at Iranian National Television and Radio. She was imprisoned for nearly five years by the Islamist government without being formally charged. Shortly after her release, she published Women Without Men and was arrested and jailed again, this time for her frank and defiant portrayal of women's sexuality. While still banned in Iran, the novel became an underground bestseller there, and has been translated into many languages around the world. She is also the author of Touba and the Meaning of Night, among many other books, and now lives in exile in Northern California.

Reviews

This book was a best seller when it was published in Iran in 1989, but all of Parsipur's works are currently banned there, and the author herself had to flee her native country for the United States in the 1990s. Both a sweeping chronicle of modern Iranian history and a study of the plight of 20th century Iranian women, it traces the country's history from both Russian and British colonization during the Qajar dynasty through the coup led by Reza Khan, forebear of the Pahlavi family who held power in Iran prior to the revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Parsipur subtly conveys her commentary through Touba, a woman born into an upper-class family who marries young to secure her family's financial future. Though marital success eludes Touba (she was trapped twice in a loveless marriage), she grows intellectually and spiritually throughout her eight decades. With each passing year, she gravitates more toward Sufism, a tradition of mysticism based in Islam. Readers familiar with Parsipur's Women Without Men will recognize her deft utilization of magical realism and Persian myths. They may be less familiar with Sufi symbolism or references to lesser-known works of Persian literature. However, this lack of expertise will not detract from an enjoyment of Parsipur's rich and well-crafted narrative. For all fiction collections. Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Eighty dramatic years in Iran-from the turn of the 20th-century to the 1979 revolution-are witnessed through Touba's chador-covered eyes in this bold, insightful novel, Parsipur's second to be translated into English. After her farther dies when she's 14, Touba-smart and spiritual, but barely educated-proposes, for financial reasons, to a 52-year-old man. Miserably depressed, she divorces him a few years later, and marries a Qajar prince; it is a loving relationship, but when he takes a second wife, she divorces him, too. Alone and impoverished as the prince's dynasty is displaced, she weaves carpets to make money, cares for her children and communes with a dead girl's ghost that haunts her property. As Touba grows older, she seeks truth with a Sufi master, but the demands of her crumbling household intervene. Initially published in Iran in 1989, this ground-breaking novel-which juxtaposes reality and mysticism, becoming especially fantastical toward the book's conclusion-was quickly banned by the Islamic Republic, which had imprisoned Parsipur before and did so again. Her 11 novels remain banned in Iran. Now an exile in San Francisco, Parsipur makes a stylishly original contribution to modern feminist literature. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Bold, insightful . . . a stylishly original contribution to modern feminist literature." --Publishers Weekly "Parsipur's novel carries the reader on a mystical and emotional odyssey spanning eight decades of Iranian cultural, political, and religious history . . . replete with juxtapositions of mysticism and historical fact, Parsipur's novel is a rewarding and enlightening encapsulation of her country's recent past." --Booklist "[Touba and the Meaning of Night] is both a sweeping chronicle of modern Iranian history and a study of the plight of twentieth-century Iranian women. . . [displaying] deft utilization of magic realism and Persian myths . . . rich and well-crafted. For all fiction collections." --Library Journal (starred review) "Shahrnush Parsipur's Touba and the Meaning of Night is... one of the unsurpassed masterpieces of modern Persian literature." --Iranian.com "With America and Iran engaged in a volatile stand-off, this now banned 1989 novel by one of Iran's most distinguished writers provides profound insights into the conflict between religion and modernity in modern Persia. . . . A feminist tour de force . . . among the classics of twentieth-century Middle Eastern Literature." --Tikkun magazine "Shahrnush Parsipur makes a case against every kind of fundamentalism. But above all she narrates a great history book and a great story. Not only does she borrow the oriental coin of Sherherazade, but she also avails herself artfully of the narrative technique of Western masters from Umberto Ecco to Gabrielle Garcia Marquez." --Die Zeit (Germany) "Shahrnush Parsipur has achieved an unusually powerful and vivid portrait of her homeland." --Der Standard (Austria) "Like Parsipur herself, her protagonists are women whose rebellions are not merely political but existential, against a system that denies them their individual dignity and stunts their potentials for growth." --Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran "Houshmand and Talattof have rendered a moving translation of Shahrnush Parsipur's masterpiece. The tale combines realism with flights of fantasy in a tale set against the backdrop of modern Iranian history." --Beth Baron, author of Egypt as a Woman -Bold, insightful . . . a stylishly original contribution to modern feminist literature.- --Publishers Weekly -Parsipur's novel carries the reader on a mystical and emotional odyssey spanning eight decades of Iranian cultural, political, and religious history . . . replete with juxtapositions of mysticism and historical fact, Parsipur's novel is a rewarding and enlightening encapsulation of her country's recent past.- --Booklist -[Touba and the Meaning of Night] is both a sweeping chronicle of modern Iranian history and a study of the plight of twentieth-century Iranian women. . . [displaying] deft utilization of magic realism and Persian myths . . . rich and well-crafted. For all fiction collections.- --Library Journal (starred review) -Shahrnush Parsipur's Touba and the Meaning of Night is... one of the unsurpassed masterpieces of modern Persian literature.- --Iranian.com -With America and Iran engaged in a volatile stand-off, this now banned 1989 novel by one of Iran's most distinguished writers provides profound insights into the conflict between religion and modernity in modern Persia. . . . A feminist tour de force . . . among the classics of twentieth-century Middle Eastern Literature.- --Tikkun magazine -Shahrnush Parsipur makes a case against every kind of fundamentalism. But above all she narrates a great history book and a great story. Not only does she borrow the oriental coin of Sherherazade, but she also avails herself artfully of the narrative technique of Western masters from Umberto Ecco to Gabrielle Garcia Marquez.- --Die Zeit (Germany) -Shahrnush Parsipur has achieved an unusually powerful and vivid portrait of her homeland.- --Der Standard (Austria) -Like Parsipur herself, her protagonists are women whose rebellions are not merely political but existential, against a system that denies them their individual dignity and stunts their potentials for growth.- --Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran -Houshmand and Talattof have rendered a moving translation of Shahrnush Parsipur's masterpiece. The tale combines realism with flights of fantasy in a tale set against the backdrop of modern Iranian history.- --Beth Baron, author of Egypt as a Woman

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