Marriage on the Street Corners of Tehran

Nadia Shahram. Unhooked Books (Consortium, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (319p) ISBN 978-1-936268-17-7
Shahram’s gripping debut novel, about the Shia Muslim practice of temporary marriage (in which the duration and dowry are arranged in advance), is more powerful for being based on real-life experiences, working as an engrossing fictional story and an exposé of gender discrimination in Iran. At 12 years old, Ateesh is forced into an arranged marriage with an abusive man. When a brutal beating lands her in the hospital, her mother is determined to get her daughter a divorce, in spite of Ateesh’s father’s opposition because the family will lose face. Ateesh’s marriage at that tender age shapes the decisions she makes for the rest of her life; she is determined never again to be under the control of a man. For complicated reasons, she eventually turns to temporary marriage—effectively a legalized form of prostitution—as a way to earn a living and pay for college, while avoiding the possibility of real love. Although Ateesh’s early experiences are disturbing, that brutality is countered by the warm, loving relationships she shares with her mother and two grandmothers. Shahram presents a positive view of Islam but criticizes the ways that men have twisted its interpretation to rationalize the abuse of women. The authentic, intimate story narrated by Ateesh pulls the reader in and encompasses not only her life but also that of other women, exposing a wide range of inequities between the genders in Iranian culture. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/27/2016
Release date: 08/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 340 pages - 978-0-615-35189-6
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