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review 2018-06-13 22:20
Laughing Without an Accent by Firoozeh Dumas
Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad - Firoozeh Dumas

I enjoyed this book – it’s an entertaining memoir-in-essays by an Iranian-American author about her life, family, and navigating two cultures. Her book titles may be doing her a disservice by treating humor as her primary selling point; I would call this book amusing, humorous, and enjoyable but not laugh-out-loud funny. Of course humor is individual, and the stories are good enough to enjoy even if you don't find them hilarious.

There are a lot of good stories here. I enjoyed reading about the author’s childhood in Iran and the U.S., appreciated that she shared her disappointing and isolated first year in college (there is a lot of pressure on kids for this to be the best time of their life, but isn’t for everyone), chuckled at the misunderstandings when she began dating her husband, experienced schadenfreude reading about her worst day as a stay-at-home mom but admired her getting the TV out of the house, and was entertained by the ups and downs of life with her quirky relatives. Toward the end there were a couple of chapters that didn’t do much for me: one about her experience of giving a graduation speech essentially regurgitates the speech (complete with long paragraphs on why we should care for our teeth and read books), while another – a potentially great chapter about her meeting Kathryn Koon, who was held hostage in Iran in 1979 – fell flat, because neither the author nor Koon seems to have many feelings about this and so it becomes a chronicle of their road trip around Iowa and what visiting an Amish store is like. Also, the "gross foods in France" chapter is indeed gross.

Overall though, this is fun reading, easy to pick up for a chapter at a time when you’re busy. Nothing huge happens in it, but it’s an enjoyable window into the author’s life as an immigrant, mixing serious topics with humor.

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review 2018-03-28 17:56
A good introduction to the Safavid era
Iran Under the Safavids - Roger Savory

From the sixteenth until the early eighteenth centuries, the Safavid dynasty ruled lands stretching from modern day Afghanistan to Baghdad, and the Persian Gulf to central Asia.  Yet despite its size and longevity, it has received far less attention from Western-language historians than its Ottoman contemporaries.  While the Ottoman Empire is well-addressed by dozens of monographs, surveys and biographies of its central figures, the Safavids languish in comparative obscurity, enjoying a much thinner historiography.

 

This is just one reason why Roger Savory’s book is to be appreciated.  Whereas readers interested in Ottoman history have dozens of works to turn to if they wish to learn about its history, Savory’s history stands almost along in providing an overview of the Safavid period.  It is fortunate that it is as good as it is.  In the space of ten chapters he covers the range of Safavid history, from its rise in central Asia to the growing frontier challenges that ultimately extinguished the dynasty.  Though his focus is on the political history of the period, he addresses everything from the intellectual life of the empire to the role of international trade in its economy.

 

For this reason, Savory’s book stands out as the indispensable starting point for readers seeking to learn about the Safavid period.  Though it the majesty and splendor of its existence shine again, detailed and explained for everyone to understand.  In this respect the author has done a service in taking this unjustly obscure period and illuminating it for English-language readers.  It is hoped that more historians build upon this work and open up this era further for a curious audience.

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review 2017-12-01 20:50
The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons by Goli Taraghi
The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons: Selected Stories - Goli Taraghi,Sara Khalili

I read the first 5 stories of this collection (through page 179). The first one was decent and unexpectedly funny, but after that they became more a chore than a pleasure. The characters and settings are misty and unformed. All the stories are in the first person, sometimes told through the point-of-view of a minor character who nevertheless relates all of the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist like an omniscient narrator even though he or she has no way of knowing this information. The translation is very fluid, but . . . maybe a little too much so; the stories feel as if they were written in English, but blandly. After pushing myself through four stories out of a sense of obligation, I decided to be done.

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review 2017-05-17 17:06
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood - Marjane Satrapi,Blake Ferris,Mattias Ripa

A graphic-novel-style memoir about the author's childhood during the Iranian Revolution, this book seems written largely to educate Westerners about Iran. It is an episodic story focusing on how current events affected the author and her progressive family. This focus seems to have worked well for most of its readers, especially those who knew next to nothing about Iran beforehand. For some reason, though, I found it less gripping than others did, although all the right elements seem to be there: the stakes are high but the author keeps it personal, the characters are as well-defined as can be expected in a childhood memoir, the art is emotive. The plotting is a little off, with both individual chapter arcs and the novel as a whole either tapering off or ending abruptly. You should probably read it anyway though.

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review 2016-12-30 23:38
„Oswajanie świata” - oswajanie ze światem
Oswajanie świata - Nicolas Bouvier

Nicolas Bouvier wyruszył wraz z przyjacielem w latach '50 XX wieku drogą lądową do Indii. Jako środek transportu służył im mały fiacik, jako budżet – własne zarobki w drodze. Jako miarę czasu używali miesięcy a świadectwo przeżyć dawała maszyna do pisania autora. Zawarte w książce opisanie podróży wiodącej przez Bałkany i Turcję po Afganistan, jest jedną z najpiękniejszych relacji podróżniczych, jakie zdarzyło mi się przeczytać. Jadąc niespiesznie przez Europę i Azję oraz posługując się uniwersalnym językiem muzyki (a także mniej uniwersalnym francuskim), autorowi udało się zbliżyć do ideału podróży, w której miesza się przedmiot i podmiot. podróż staje się celem samym w sobie i nie jest do końca pewne, czy dobiegnie ona do przewidzianego końca. Bo koniec może nastąpić gdziekolwiek, bo wyznaczona meta nie ma specjalnego znaczenia. W tą podróżniczą sielankę wkradają się raz po raz spore niebezpieczeństwa, a to związane z finansami, a to ze zdrowiem. Ma miejsce także brutalne zderzenie z „realnym” życiem toczącym się poza trasą. Jak sobie z tym radzą bohaterowie? Jak reagują na to napotkani w drodze ludzie? O tym wszystkim równie niespiesznie warto przeczytać w książce.

 

Gwiazdy spadały na podwórze, ale daremnie się głowiłem: nie mogłem sobie życzyć nic oprócz tego, co miałem.

Nicolas Bouvier „Oswajanie świata”

 

 

„Oswajanie świata” jest książką drogi i jakoś w jej opisach utkwiło mi określenie, że chodzi o podróż do Indii. Nie jest kryminałem, więc nie zdradzę specjalnej tajemnicy i napiszę jasno, że tylko jedno mnie srodze zawiodło w całej książce – finał. To miała być podróż do Indii! Spodziewałem się, że kiedyś autor tam dotrze!! I coś o tym kraju napisze!!! Gdzie są dalsze części? Ale i tak ją gorąco polecam a sam jeszcze po nią sięgnę zapewne nie raz.

 

Moja wersja oswajania świata, to jazda rowerkiem przez ogrody herbaciane w okolicach Munnaru (Munnar, 2014 r.)

 

Recenzowanego e-booka można kupić m.in. w księgarni Ebookpoint: Nicolas Bouvier "Oswajanie świata".

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