December 17, 2013
Voices from Iran by Mahnaz Kousha
Kousha interviews fifteen Iranian women from different walks of life (although the majority are educated) and how being a woman in Iran has played out for them. She explores their relationships with their mothers, fathers, husbands and their role in the workplace. She also asks whether or not they'd rather be born again as women or men and why.
To me a lot of the women she interviewed seemed to be from the same walks of life. A good many of them were able to work, some had pursued higher education, and all were at least given the autonomy to talk to an interviewer. And it's this last thing that I think shows that this book may not be reflective of the society as a whole (the author does say this is not a representational book of women in Iran). It's interesting to hear their stories and how they felt about their stations in life. Generally, most of them weren't happy with some aspects of their life but actually quite content in others.
The format of this book actually made it duller than it really was. Kousha spent a lot of time telling us what she was going to do in the book and after awhile I just wanted to get on to the interviews. But even those were broken up between speculations by Kousha about the women and their relationships. There also seemed to be a lot of repetition. We'd see a quote from one of the women and then just a few paragraphs later that same quote would be part of a larger chunk from the interview. The book was split into sections such as "Mothers and Daughters" and "Fathers and Daughters" and the conversations followed those lines.
This was an interesting book but there are plenty out there that are a little more engaging and show more of the women's stories.
Voices From Iran