An eye-opening account that disturbs with its depiction of the place of women in Iranian society, but warms the heart in its...

THE GOOD DAUGHTER

A MEMOIR OF MY MOTHER'S HIDDEN LIFE

Richly detailed memoir by a daughter who, as an adult, learned of her Iranian mother’s secret past: arranged marriage at 13, a baby at 14 and divorce while still a teenager.

After Darznik (English/Washington and Lee Univ.) found a photograph of her mother Lili as a child bride, Lili recorded for her a series of tapes about her family and her life in Iran. Lili’s story begins with her grandmother, whose daughter Kobra is Lili’s mother and a continuing and forceful presence in her life. Darznik’s memoir is not a transcription of audio tapes, however, but an expansion of them into an engaging account of life in Iran in the 20th century, full of memorable characters whose lives take unexpected turns. The author’s portrayal of Iranian society and male-female relations are revealing, and her descriptions of clothing, food and drink are especially engrossing. To escape from her marriage to a sadistic husband, Lili was forced to leave her baby with him. Eventually, she moved to Germany, trained as a midwife and acquired a European husband. Returning to Iran, Lili thrived in her new career, but her husband drank too much and failed in business. Threatened by the Iranian Revolution in the late ’70s, the family fled to the United States when the author was five, settling in California along with hundreds of thousands of other Iranian émigrés. Since divorce was considered as shameful as prostitution, Lili kept her past a secret. While Lili remained Iranian to the core, retaining the values of her native culture, the author grew up as an American, failing to become “The Good Daughter”—the modest, obedient girl with perfect manners that her mother held up as a model. It was only when she learned of her mother’s past and of the existence of her older half sister in Iran that she understood that “The Good Daughter” was a real person, not just a figure in a cautionary tale.

An eye-opening account that disturbs with its depiction of the place of women in Iranian society, but warms the heart in its portrayal of their gritty endurance.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-446-53497-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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