The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran

Hooman Majd. Doubleday, $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-53532-8
Having grown up mostly in America as the son of an Iranian diplomat, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based journalist and author Majd (The Ayatollah Begs to Differ) took his Wisconsin-born wife and young son for an experimental year’s stay in Tehran in order to immerse himself in the strange, yet familiar, culture of Iran. Not such an easy task for the Westernized couple, considering that the country is still firmly in the grips of a 30-year-old-plus Islamist dictatorship that polices public behavior and dress, embraces pervasive censorship and surveillance, and is under severe sanctions from the U.S. and the U.N. Moreover, since Majd had been called in for questioning by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance on a previous trip with NBC News and scolded for the things he had written about President Ahmadinejad, he resolved not to use the year in Tehran for journalism, but to make a smooth life for his demanding yoga-instructor wife, Karri, and toddler, Khash. Majd sought out a quiet apartment away from Tehran’s traffic and sooty air, in a neighborhood where the family could actually push a stroller and find shops that offered organic foods, without attracting attention of the morality squad. Majd’s account is useful and elucidating, rather than newsworthy or surprising. Attending parties both traditional and alcohol fueled; observing the resigned, yet loyal mores of the Iranians whose reformist Green Movement was crushed two years before; and recording a tale of a survivor of Evin prison, Majd manages to offer insightful glimpses of the complex Iranian character. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 11/05/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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