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TO SEE AND SEE AGAIN by Tara Bahrampour


A Life in Iran and America

by Tara Bahrampour

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1999
ISBN: 0-374-28767-8
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A beautifully written memoir that delivers much more than the story of a young woman’s life. Bahrampour, a Princeton Ph.D. candidate in sociology, grew up in two cultures—America and Iran—very much in conflict. The daughter of an Iranian father and an American mother, she claimed American habits as her early norms. Unsurprisingly, when the family moved to Iran, navigating a contradictory array of expectations proved challenging. Riding a bike in an alley was considered ordinary in the US but outrageous by her father’s relatives. However, the young Tara grew attached to Iranian ways, so when the family returned to the US due to the Islamic Revolution (she was 11), the author’s sense of dislocation only heightened. Financial problems, moves from place to place, and her struggles to fit in with new friends all intensified her sense that the rigid customs and extended family of her Iranian life could serve as a source of stability, not just of frustration. Bahrampour wasn—t completely comfortable in either America or Iran, and neither country was completely comfortable with her. The teenage Tara became hip, but Iran was still in her blood; in a 1990 trip there, she discovered both an alien extremism and artifacts of her past, still meaningful for her present. Penetrating insights into the tensions of a multicultural identity can be found throughout the book, but the most profound passages occur when she returns once again to the West. She’s no sympathizer with the Iranian moral police. Yet in Brussels, Tara is shocked to glimpse a couple holding hands publicly. She realizes that “here I would find no silent bonds of solidarity, nothing of the watchful, comforting community” found in Iran. A rare honesty reveals emotional complexity. (Author tour)