By Azar Nafisi
368 pages; Random House
Living in Iran under the repressive Khomeini regime, Azar Nafisi jotted down a list of things she was obliged—for personal and political reasons—to keep secret. One item she recorded, "reading Lolita in Tehran," would become the title of her 2003 international best-seller. Her absorbing new book, Things I've Been Silent About, revisits that list to consider how deeply her family history was affected by the history of her native land. With dispassionate intelligence, Nafisi explores her troubled relationship with her difficult, remarkable mother, who became a member of the Iranian parliament, and with her loving father, whose career as mayor of Tehran was cut short by the false accusations that earned him a prison term during the Shah's regime. She writes about her father's infidelities, her parents' unhappy marriage and their eventual divorce, about the colorful cast of relatives and friends who frequented their home, the growth of her passion for books, her education in England and the United States, and about the upheavals that accompanied her country's transformation from a despotic monarchy to a state in which every detail of daily life was dictated by the clerics. Like Reading Lolita in Tehran, Things I've Been Silent About is a testament to the ways in which narrative truth-telling—from the greatest works of literature to the most intimate family stories—sustains and strengthens us as we struggle to weather the periodic violent storms that so drastically alter the landscape—and the world—in which we live.