Top positive review
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Surprising and shocking
on 6 February 2017
This is a book about life in Islamic Republic of Iran. The book opens with a description of Vali Asr Street, the long street built nearly 100 years ago, lined with 18,000 sycamore trees which are now slowly dying from drought. It links the poorest southern districts of Tehran which is the heartland of the core support for the regime to the affluent, rich, formerly Westernised, northern suburbs.
Having set the context with a map of the city and the introduction to Vali Asr Street, the author then tells us in 8 chapters of the lives of eight Tehranis living along the length of this street, from the poorest to the most wealthy. Of necessity the true identity of each of the characters in the book is disguised to prevent their recognition and some are composite characters. The "Sources" chapter at the end of the book explains in detail the information source for each of the characters.
These people are all very different, but the factor which links them all, is that they stand out in some way from what passes as the norm in Tehran. They all display a shocking independence from and passive or active resistance to the regime. I am not sure what shocked me most as I read this book. The lives the people live, the nature of their rebellion, the role of the basiji (youth paramilitaries) or the strange decisions of what is or is not haram (forbidden) by the regime.
A truly surprising and shocking book and impossible to put down. I found the story of Amir in Chapter 3 the most painful and touching in a book packed with things to cause you to weep.