cover image The Gaze of the Gazelle: The Story of a Generation

The Gaze of the Gazelle: The Story of a Generation

Arash Hejazi, foreword by Paulo Coelho. Seagull (Univ. of Chicago, dist.), $21 (408p) ISBN 978-1-906497-90-3

In this ungainly but colorful memoir, Hejazi describes growing up in the Islamic Republic of Iran as a member of the "Burnt Generation"%E2%80%94many of whom fought on the Iraqi front only to return home to a corrupt, murderous regime. Hejazi avoided war, but shared his generation's growing disenchantment with the government, first as a young doctor forced to turn away the poor, and later as a publisher battling state censors. Hejazi's personal story abounds with anecdotes striking enough to offset tedious sections on post-revolutionary Iranian history and Persian mythology. When pro-government forces kill the young protestor Neda Agha-Soltan during a 2009 demonstration in Tehran, the author's exasperation comes to a head. (Hejazi was standing next to Neda, a stranger, when she was shot, and played a key role in distributing the graphic footage to the media.) Hejazi's life is fascinating enough, so it seems cynical that the book's back cover misleadingly suggests that Neda's generation%E2%80%94not Hejazi's%E2%80%94is the main subject. Though Hejazi's prose is generally concise, at times it veers into the maudlin, particularly in a bizarre passage in which the author likens Khomeini in his coffin to Snow White. (Mar.)