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"—many 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—not Hejazi's—is 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.)
Reviewed on: 05/09/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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