A woman forced to flee Iran with her family battles lifelong mental illness, racism, and sexual abuse in this debut memoir.
When Iran descended into violent revolution, debut author Majidi’s family, which had close ties to the shah, was compelled to escape to New Jersey. The clan was plunged into turmoil—her siblings turned angry and reckless, her mother sought comfort in alcohol, and her father plummeted into a deep depression. In addition to financial hardship—her family’s savings was marooned in Iran—Majidi also weathered social and cultural isolation. She scored some measure of solace in academic achievement in high school, but she was plagued by a pendulum swing between anxiety and depression and fell into an abusive relationship with a possessive 19-year-old man. She went to Barnard College and later earned an MFA in writing from the New School, discovering a love of literature and creative production. But she was repeatedly victimized by craven men and raped by two colleagues while she worked for Rolling Stone magazine. Majidi pressed charges, but she was never quite taken seriously by the authorities, and it became increasingly clear that justice would never be delivered. The author fell in love with her married writing instructor, James, and when he turned his back on her, she obsessively stalked him for years and sent him thousands of emails. She became engulfed by paranoid delusions, convinced her novel had been stolen for politically conspiratorial purposes and was somehow responsible for fomenting tumult in Iran and that her home was filled with poisonous gas. The author bravely explores three explosive issues—mental illness, racism, and misogyny—with bracing candor. In addition, she provides an engrossing and timely look at the way women of color are doubly objectified, as exotic sexual quarry and as individuals worthy of contempt. But her ambitious account should have been pared down considerably—Majidi buries readers under an accumulation of autobiographical facts that eventually turn into a cumbrous weight. Finally, readers be warned: This is not a story of inspiring redemption—it begins and ends with acid bitterness.
A courageous account of a challenging life that ultimately becomes an exhausting read.