Living in Hell: A True Odyssey of a Woman's Struggle in Islamic Iran Against Personal and Political Forces

Ghazal Omid, Author
Ghazal Omid, Author . Park Avenue $26.95 (488p) ISBN 978-0-9759683-0-7
Reviewed on: 05/23/2005
Release date: 07/01/2005
Paperback - 422 pages - 978-1-4774-2589-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-4920-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-7861-5926-0
MP3 CD - 978-0-7861-7052-4
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Somewhere inside this ungainly behemoth of a memoir lies an absorbing account of a middle-class girl's life in Iran. Yet only the most patient reader will follow the travails of Omid (a pseudonym meaning "lost soul") from conception into middle age. After five introductions that each repeat approximately the same point (women are ill treated in Iran), Omid launches into extensive backgrounds on both sets of grandparents; her shrewd, bigamous businessman father (whom she hates); her mother (on whom she blows hot and cold); and her brothers (her feelings range from dislike to hatred). Omid appears to be a contentious person as well as a grievance collector, and her clashes with family, friends, teachers and, later, when she emigrates to Canada, employers, seem more personal than political. The protracted detailing of grudges becomes so numbing that when genuine iniquity occurs—she claims to have been raped and briefly kidnapped—a reader's reaction is somewhat muted. In the 150-page Canadian section toward the end, Omid quarrels incessantly with her brothers (who also emigrate), becomes anorexic, has plastic surgery and is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Iran would seem to be the least of her worries. (June)

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