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Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran
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Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran

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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  3,306 ratings  ·  345 reviews
As far back as she can remember, Azadeh Moaveni has felt at odds with her tangled identity as an Iranian-American. In suburban America, Azadeh lived in two worlds. At home, she was the daughter of the Iranian exile community, serving tea, clinging to tradition, and dreaming of Tehran. Outside, she was a California girl who practiced yoga and listened to Madonna. For years, ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by PublicAffairs (first published January 1st 2005)
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Valarie
Moaveni decides to move to her parents' native Iran and play journalist. Instead of objective reporting, or even an exploration of identity politics, her book is a narcissistic complaint about how difficult her privileged life is. She also comes across as extremely hypocritical, mocking recently returned expatriates for the very same things she did upon first arriving in Iran. She criticizes the elite class of Iran, and in the next breath derides someone for their "village accent" and whines tha ...more
Connie
Azadeh Moaveni's Iranian parents moved to California three years before the Shah was removed from power during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Moavini was born in Palo Alto, and had dual citizenship in the United States and Iran. She felt torn in her cultural identity as she was exposed to American culture in school and Iranian culture at home. Because radical students took the American embassy employees hostage in Iran in 1979, it was difficult to be an Iranian in the United States. Moaveni fou ...more
Jessica
Jun 08, 2008 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Young people
Moaveni is a fun and engaging narrator who reminded me of Elizabeth Gilbert in several ways - her spunkiness and humor, but also her self-obsession. I think this book could have been about 50 pages shorter - if I were the editor I would have cut most of the parts where she bemoans being from two places. Since she does not really give an intimate psychological portrait of herself, I never really knew why she felt the pain of dual-identity more than others or why we, her readers, should care. Howe ...more
Janna
This was sort of interesting from a standpoint of learning about some Persian culture; but I don't think it was written particularly well. I kept feeling like the story was being set-up, but then realized that I felt this way all the way through the book. I didn't see what her deeper point was other than "living in Iran as a young woman who grew up in California with a romanticized notion of what old-Iran was like (that I picked up from my old relatives) is different that what I expected," and I ...more
R.
Jun 21, 2008 R. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: journalists who dream of exotic assignments
Shelves: 2008
Not 17 pages into this and already I'm reminded of the huge family portrait of Middlesex, up to and including the immigrants who gather at houses to discuss politics of the homeland, the presence of a tender but dotty grandfather, etc.

Iranians live in an uber-strict wonderland that is half lush Arabian utopia and half Road Warrior-youth sci-fi dystopia. Kind of like eastern Washington. Naw. That ain't fair to Iran - nothing lush out here, except the occasionally, ah, rounded tumbleweed. But, eve
...more
Emilie
I tried. I really did. It's an interesting premise, but its been done before. Plus, a person who is not yet 30 years old has no business writing a memoir unless she has lived through something pretty significant. Moving from Iran to the US and back again doesn't count. The other thing that might qualify someone so young to write a memoir would be a strange or terribly unique upbringing. This author doesn't meet any of those criteria.
The first part of the book reveals such insights as "when I was
...more
Ali Tehrani
I admit, I didn't finish this book. I really tried to get through it. But every page was a personal slap in my face. I mean, she actually identifies the social caste I come from - baazaari - and talks about how her family would never associate with such riffraff. The author comes from an amazingly elitist background, and often assumes - at least up until the portion I read - that everyone shares her values and beliefs and that those who don't are morons. Furthermore, each sentence seemed soaked ...more
Adella
Excellent! Lipstick Jihad was part of my reading list to immerse myself before my 1st trip to Iran. Not only does Moaveni write about her identity as an Iranian-American, and what that means to her and the world/society around her, she is also the same generation as myself and has written about a country and place that so few people truly know anything about. What's more, she is a woman writing about a country in which so few women have voices. Truly an inspiration!
Misha
Eh. The subject matter was somewhat interesting, and the prose is competent (but not sparkling), but I found the author too detached from her own life story to make this the compelling read it should have been. I suspect she wanted to write it as a work of pure journalism, but some bean counter said, "No! Make it a memoir!" because it would sell.
Elinor
I really struggled with what to rate this book between not liking it and thinking it was OK. The thing is, Moaveni made me realize some things I should have realized a while ago, and that was good, but she did it by way of making me despise her.

OK, so I have had a bit of a thing for Iran (books about Iran, films from Iran...) for quite some time. This means that I have read a number of memoirs by women from Iran (Reading Lolita..., of course), and women who grew up in the diaspora, like Moaveni,
...more
Shah Saguna
Jihad and Mujahid ( one who carries out jihad) are two religious words that have been given multiple meanings. 'Jihad' is a synonym for 'holy war' - a vicious clash between the followers of different religions, each of whom believe that God is on their side and the other side is, is of Satan. The word Jihad is often used to describe a call for the muslims to fight against non-muslims in the defense of Islam. Others use this term as a synonym for struggle of any type. This reflects the origin of ...more
D1wata
This book is endlessly interesting-- a priceless look into the modern Iranian upper class through the eyes of a second-generation Iranian-American correspondant for Time Magazine.

Though I usually hate memoirs, her inner turmoil over being Iranian or American or Iranian or American or Iranian or American was palatable. It could have been much worse. Her moxy for even moving to Iran when so many people and circumstances discouraged provided enough fodder to thicken the usual reflections on identi
...more
Mrs. Miska
Having just finished Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran, I felt good about jumping into Moaveni's Lipstick Jihad: I could now apply my new-found knowledge! It turns out, however, that Moaveni's writing is so well balanced between her journalistic style and her narrative that I didn't really need the background of Axworthy's History, but it was nice to have certain perspectives on Iran confirmed.

As a second-generation Iranian-American, Moaveni explores the years she lived and worked in Tehran
...more
Mainon
I came so close to giving this five stars, but if I'm being honest with myself, the fifth star would just have been representative of my personal bias toward books with a cultural anthropology bent.

I really enjoyed this book, but am a bit hesitant to recommend it because I can easily imagine the author coming across as whiny and irritating to others. What would be your reaction to a character who is constantly -- seriously, incessantly -- asking herself what it means to be Iranian and obsessing
...more
Meri
I made the mistake of reading her second book first. Honeymoon in Tehran was a brilliant rendering of an Iranian government that is way out of touch with its people and the left-leaning, secular Iranians she hangs out with. The first book is more of the same, but much less polished. Moaveni talks about many of the same concepts in this book, but in a much more far reaching sense. Rather than just recounting her experience and describing the many personalities she surrounds herself with, describi ...more
Lauren
Eh. I expected more from this book. While it has some good tidbits about life in Tehran circa 2000, the odd organization and Ms. Moaveni’s whiny tone ruined the book and made it difficult for me to get an accurate picture of life in Tehran (that she seemingly contradicts herself numerous times doesn’t help). At the end of the day, she’s a middle-class kid from a well-connected family who got a good job and exactly what she wanted but fixates on everything ‘wrong’ with her life. Any trust-fund hi ...more
Susan Hester
Of the "caught between two cultures" I've recently read, this was the richest and best written. Born in Iran, Azadeh moved to California as a 3 year old and never could get quite into the California girl culture due to her background. Iran was pictured as heaven by her parents. Ultimately, she became a journalist for Time magazine and lived in Iran, and although fluent in Farsi, was never accepted by her countrymen/women as a fellow Iranian. She provides a lot of insights about the Iranian cultu ...more
Deb
Time magazine journalist Azadeh Moaveni was born in America, a child of Iranian exiles. Twenty years after the Islamic revolution, she moved to Iran to report on Iran in general and the burgeoning reform movement in particular. She confronted her ambivalence about her heritage and her sense of alienation from both American and Iranian culture. This should make for a riveting book, and I did learn a lot that I did not know about Iran, but the author's voice was so irritating that the reading expe ...more
Becky Johnson
I’ve previously read 2 other memoirs on Iran (both by Azar Nafisi) — Reading Lolita in Tehran and Things I’ve Been Silent About. Both books have left me thinking that I would have loved to visit the Tehran of the 1950s/1960s, with it’s colorful bazaars, ice cream shops, nearby mountains and cultural/religious diversity. The books also left me hoping that a dissatisfaction with our own government and a desire for change — much like in pre-revolution Iran — never leads the U.S. to become a theocra ...more
Molly Olusunmade Corlett
If you judge this book as "a memoir of growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran", it is an interesting and quite insightful read: we learn about Moaveni's personal struggle with identity and culture, and are led through a 'Westernised', wealthy not-quite-insider-not-quite-outsider's perspective on post-revolution Tehran. The book definitely offers an unrepresentative, elite perspective on Iran, but her journalistic observations of the society around her sometimes make it possible to br ...more
Nola Decker
Memoir can so often seem like self-indulgent therapy. Though Lipstick Jihad did delve into that territory occasionally, it was also an illuminating exploration of Iran post-revolution. The author, writing with both romanticism and disdain, describes a Tehran as rife with conflict and hypocrisy as with hope and friendship.

It's hard for me to evaluate prose with anything other than a fiction writer's eye. Her voice did not spark to life--she wrote with the detached narrative style of the journal
...more
Rlmteacher marcus
I think it would be a good read for our book club. It gives you some great insight as to what has been going on in Iran from the perspective of an Iranian-American woman reporter. It is important to get to know those in other places, especially ones, who by some, are considered the enemies of the United States. The book shows the many challenges faced by the Iranians them selves and hopefully after reading it everyone will have greater empathy for their situation.
nooshisooshi
Moaveni gets it. Breaking from her journalistic side as a Times reporter, she shares with us an intimate, complex dual citizen existence. Young exiles from Iran who still want to connect to and visit Iran find a piece of themselves in this book, but American readers can gain a deeper understanding of Iran's young people, the head dizzying government and the feeling of permanent displacement in the world. Can't wait to read her new book My Wedding in Tehran.
Nivedita
Diaspora memoir can be a trite and cliched topic, but Moaveni has done a stellar job in evoking the grit and blood of being cross-cultural in this way. excellent book.
Hassan Abdulnabi
An extremely enticing read, I was enamored by all the experiences the writer went through...very eye opening, intimate & personal
mjsquared
A great and very accurate portrayal of growing up as a first generation Iranian-American.
Reuel
Born in Palo Alto, CA in 1976, and raised in California, the Iranian-American author recounts two years spent in Tehran (~1999-2001) as a Time magazine correspondent. The book is part autobiography/memoir and part social, political, and religious analysis of the Islamic Regime's influence on daily life in Iran, especially for those of her generation--all in their 20s at the time. It is an illuminating portrait of contemporary Iran and young Iranians, as well as the struggles of their parents'gen ...more
Nancy

Moaveni’s journalistic experience comes through in the organization and straight forwardness of her writing, and yet she manages to make it personal. The most interesting parts of the book for me were her experiences in Tehran. Having romanticized life there while growing up in California, she experiences total cultural shock when she moves to Tehran as a young adult. As an Iranian, she is allowed into the country to work as a stringer for Time and is immersed into the restricted life imposed by
...more
Ron
After reading this book, I'm not sure that it can be summed up in a few words, and the title is not much help. A clever contradiction in terms, it reflects the wit of the writer as well as the women's issues often at the center of the book, but it doesn't begin to suggest the book's many other themes. Sometimes it is a memoir of growing up Iranian-American, sometimes a polemic on American misperceptions of Iran, sometimes a search for identity, sometimes an account of a high-risk adventure as a ...more
Ari
Dec 10, 2013 Ari rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: iran
This book is an absolute treat to read. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm one of those Americans that the author rallies against. She talks about how people would ask her questions (upon her return from Iran) like "were you allowed outside?", etc. I would never ask that question, but I would probably wonder at how much freedom (and fun) a person could have living in Iran. Truth be told, I've never really thought about it. But in my Comparative Politics class we studied Iran's history and I wante ...more
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MHS AP Lit. 2012-...: Lipstick Jihad Chapters 3 - 5 5 17 Sep 03, 2012 08:01PM  
MHS AP Lit. 2012-...: Lipstick Jihad Chapters 8 - 9 5 13 Sep 02, 2012 11:26PM  
MHS AP Lit. 2012-...: Lipstick Jihad Chapters 6 - 7 6 12 Sep 02, 2012 09:44PM  
MHS AP Lit. 2012-...: Lipstick Jihad Chapters 1 - 2 6 29 Aug 28, 2012 11:47PM  
Books and More!: Book Choice for March 1 2 Mar 16, 2012 11:19AM  
Books and More!: two copies of book available 1 4 Feb 21, 2012 05:22AM  
Books and More!: March Book Selection 1 4 Feb 17, 2012 07:16AM  
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  • My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes: Uncensored Iranian Voices
  • A Border Passage: From Cairo to America – A Woman's Journey
  • Persian Girls: A Memoir
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  • Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad
  • Things I've Been Silent About: Memories
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  • My Name Is Iran
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  • Neither East Nor West: One Woman's Journey Through the Islamic Republic of Iran
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Azadeh Moaveni is the author of Lipstick Jihad and the co-author, with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, of Iran Awakening. She has lived and reported throughout the Middle East, and speaks both Farsi and Arabic fluently. As one of the few American correspondents allowed to work continuously in Iran since 1999, she has reported widely on youth culture, women's rights, and Islamic reform for ...more
More about Azadeh Moaveni...
Honeymoon in Tehran: Two Years of Love and Danger in Iran Honeymoon in Tehran Reprint edition Iran Awakening Il mio Iran

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