Things I've Been Silent About: Memories of a Prodigal Daughter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Things I've Been Silent About: Memories of a Prodigal Daughter

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  2,028 ratings  ·  322 reviews
In this stunning personal story of growing up in Iran, Azar Nafisi shares her memories of living in thrall to a powerful and complex mother against the backdrop of a country’s political revolution. A girl’s pain over family secrets, a young woman’s discovery of the power of sensuality in literature, the price a family pays for freedom in a country beset by upheaval—these a...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Things I've Been Silent About, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Things I've Been Silent About

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
ما رأيته في نفيسي أرعبني، فهي لا تشجع فقط على تبني الحضارة الغربية إنما تؤيد فرضها على المجتمع الإيراني الغارق في ما وصفته بتعاليم البرابرة "العرب" وهجومها المضلل على فترة خلافة عمر بن الخطاب كإثبات لتخلف وتوحش الحضارة العربية "الإسلامية" أمام الحضارة الفارسية بذكرها رواية أمر الخليفة الثاني بحرق أكبر المكتبات الساسانية كون البشر لا يحتاجون إلا للقرآن وهذه الرواية حالها كحال قصة علي بابا والأربعين حرامي "لمراجعة مدى مصداقية رواية حرق المكاتب يرجى قراءة كتاب الفتوحات العربية في روايات المغلوبين"...more
Jul 05, 2009 Terence rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: A.V. Club book review
Shelves: biography
Anyone hoping to get an inside look at Iran under the Shah and in the immediate aftermath of the revolution or a blow-by-blow account of political survival under dictatorships will be sorely disappointed when they read Nafisi's final sentence and close this book. This is not that book. To be honest, it's not even a particularly Iranian or even Muslim book. What it is, is the intensely personal account of a woman and her relationship to her parents; how it disastrously warped and positively shape...more

I read Nafisi's best known book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, when it was first published in 2003. While I appreciated the work, it did not leave me with a desire to read anything else by Nafisi. I admired the writing, but I had conceived a dislike for the writer. I cannot easily explain why. However, it seemed to me that there was something unapproachable about Nafisi - an intellectual arrogance, maybe - which made me unable to warm to her.

A few weeks ago I became involved in a discussion about I...more
Reading a memoir, at worst, satisfies us the way gossip shows do. We peep into other people’s life and see things similar or different from ours. We take pleasures from mistakes and failures that others do - we learn the lessons or just secretly be thankful that it doesn’t happen to us.

At best, reading a memoir is like being a confidant to a close friend. She opens up her life, her intricate relationship with her parents, and her experience as an individual citizen in the political, religious co...more
Nahid Rachlin
I liked this better than Reading Lolita. It's more personal and more accurate.
This book isn't about Iranian politics. It's about an Iranian daughter and her family. This isn't a bad thing. Nafisi is a fasinating woman, and this book, written in chronological sequence, is in many ways a mediation on family which makes it strangely compelling. It is as if you are watching Nafisi walk back thorough her memories.

Yet despite its very personal feel, the book also is a good way to show the differences and similarities of culture. Nafisi family is warped but in much the same way...more
This book took me forever to finish. I'm not sure what I expected, but this wasn't it. I remember the Iranian revolution. I was in junior high and high school when the Americans were taken hostage in the embassy and I clearly remember the events as they were happening. I guess I wanted an idea of what it was like from someone who was actually there.

Nafisi is the pampered daughter of two people who were both well connected. Her father was an advisor to the Shah and her mother eventually became pa...more
Ahmed Almawali
قليلةٌ هي الكتبُ التي نحزنُ على انتهائها، وهذا الكتاب من بين الكتبِ التي حزنتُ على أنها انتهت. هذا الجمالُ كان يستحق ترجمةً تحسنُ إظهارَ حُسنِ مخزونه الثر ولكن الترجمةَ جاءت أقل من المأمول ومع ذلك فالجمالُ السرديُّ يغطي عن بعضِ العيوبِ، لننظرَ مثلا كلمةَ (خاصتي) ومشتقاتها فيكادُ لا تخلو بضعُ صفحاتٍ منها.
هي مذكراتٌ لأبيها وأمها وايران وتحولاتِها لما يقارب قرنا من الزمنِ أكثرَ من كونها لها، خناقاتُ أبيها وأمها وما رافقه من طموحٍ سياسي سرعان ما تلاشى بسبب السجنِ ثم الثورة، هذه الخناقات جعلت منها آذ...more
أشياء كنت ساكتة عنها

مدفوعاً بذكرى (أن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران) كتاب نفيسي السابق الجميل، قرأت هذا الكتاب الذي يفترض به أن يكون سيرة سابقة لعودة نفيسي من أمريكا ومعاناتها مع نظام الملالي، هذه سيرة نفيسي الطفلة والشابة، ذكريات الأم والأب، ذكريات الزواج الأول والثاني، ذكريات المدرسة ومجتمع ما قبل الثورة، ولكن كل هذا البوح والذي يتمدد على ما يزيد على 400 صفحة، ليس له مذاق (أن تقرأ لوليتا في طهران)، ليس له خفتها، تركز نفيسي على والدتها – التي ستثير غيظ أي قارئ -، ووالدها محافظ طهران السابق والذي عانى ك...more
this makes a good enrichment for her book "Reading Lolita in Tehran". she talks a lot about the reading and her study of literature, and her teaching--but the main thrust of this book is personal--her upbringing in an educated middle-class home, with Islam culturally part of the family's life, but mostly secular. Her family quite dysfuncional, especially her mother, frustrated herself and unable to move beyond it, not realizing how much she traumatized her daughter and the ytounger brother, not...more
This is one of those books that I could easily see how someone else could feel differently about when they read it. It is both an autobiography, and a picture of the Iranian political system during a certain point in time.

For me, the family dysfunction on the autobiographical side was difficult to read. This is a family full of the kind of jealousies, back-biting, and petty cruelties which are more painful than enlightening to read about. There is no arch to the story; this family story ends wi...more
Iowa City Public Library
In Things I’ve Been Silent About, Azar Nafisi writes about growing up in Tehran. Regardless of living in a country that is undergoing revolutionary change, Nafisi’s parents steal the show in this memoir. Her mother, Nezhat Nafisi, although somewhat overbearing, is a complicated person who is living in the past, but ahead of her time as a member of the Iranian parliament. Her father, Ahmad Nafisi, was mayor of Tehran before the Revolution and offers a perspective into the political establishment...more
First, I did not like Reading Lolita in Tehran. I thought the idea was ingenious, perhaps even brilliant, but was quickly strangled by a string of cliche's, which, unfortunately, followed the author throughout her memoir: Things I've Been Silent About.
One almost wishes she had remained silent. The book is self-indulgent (bordering on narcissistic), petulant, and disappointingly unoriginal. A good portion of the book focuses on her relationship with her mother only to end in the anti-climatic: "...more
I just finished this book and it was AMAZING!!!

Last summer i read ms. nafisi's first memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran. After completing that book i thought I knew so much about this incredible woman's life. I was wrong. She covered a smaller portion of her life in that memoir. That book was specifically aimed at to discuss her experiences during the Iranian Revolution/Iran Iraq war and how it prompted her to take the bold and brave step of teaching students literature in her home secretly. The s...more
Kathleen Hagen
Things I’ve Been Silent About, by Azar Mafisi, narrated by Maila Azad, produced by Books on Tape, downloaded from

In this book, Mafisi tells us more about her actual life. Her previous bestseller, “Reading Lolita in Tehran” described what it was like to teach in Iran especially after the revolution. This second book tells us about Azar growing up in Iran in an unusual family. Her father was mayor of the town but then got on the wrong side of the Shah and was thrown into jail for thre...more
I have been chipping away at this book Things I've Been Silent About by Azar Nafisi - I think I've been reading it for two months! It's a memoir charting her relationships with her mother and father and as much as I was drawn in by its subject - Dad's death last year has left me thinking about parents in our lives - the baldness of it's revelation has left me feeling a little uncomfortable. I'm not sure about the ethics of it all, the laying bare of families for the world! I think this is the pl...more
I was looking forward to reading this memoir after reading Reading Lolita in Tehran a few years ago. I remember enjoying that book and I was hoping that her new book would tell the more personal side of her story.

Dr. Nafisi does share a fair amount about her parents and her life growing up in Tehran. Unfortunately though, I didn't really find myself enjoying the story very much. She share a great deal about how difficult her mother was. I'm not a therapist, but I'm guessing that her mother proba...more
This book was a gift from my mother. She and I both loathed Nafisi's first book, Reading Lolita in Tehran; we agreed that it was whiny and trite, trying too hard to turn Nabokov into a metonym for Nafisi's own life.

This book is simpler and more honest. It's not really about Nafisi at all, but about her parents, a political couple in 1960s, '70s and '80s Iran. In particular, it looks at the interplay between their political and marital problems, and the way this toxic mix affected their children....more
An interesting memoir by Azar Nafisi about growing up in the country of Iran. Her mother was a complex and complicated person disappointed in her own dreams of leading a romantic and important life, often creating fictional stories she told to her children which she had come to believe herself. These fictionalized stories were not only about her past, but also of her children and her family.

Nafisi’s father was a different type of person, often mesmerizing his children with classic tales like the...more
I loved "Reading Lolita in Tehran" when I read it several years ago. This book is an autobiographical story of the author's life growing up in Tehran. For me, a measure of a good book is one that I think about when I am not reading it. It is a book that beckons me to sit down on the couch whenever I have a few minutes of free time. By the time I got two thirds of the way through this book I realized that I was choosing to read lots of other things instead of the book. Finally I made myself finis...more
I love Azar's ability (and depth of insight into herself) to show what each of her parents have helped her gain and lose in her life, regardless of how things felt for her as a child. I also thoroughly enjoyed how literature has affected her life. The story here is more or less in order, but Azar does a good job of giving insights at the right time, whether their in chronological order or not. This is the second time recently that I've read about Iran that describes the censorship and lack of cr...more
I really liked Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, but as I held this book in my hand at the bookstore, I thought to myself, do I really care about this woman enough to read her life story, and does she have an interesting life? I’m skeptical of writers who feel compelled to write their autobiographies without really having anything interesting to say. Even really great writers can write autobiographies that shouldn’t have been written. Nabokov’s was a long yawn. Sartre’s was just absurd and pret...more
I suppose I expect memoirs to take me somewhere I've never been, and teach me about a life I'll never lead. Without question, this book fulfilled both criteria.

The author describes her parents highly dysfunctional marriage, in particular her incredibly difficult mother (and thus her own, not especially easy childhood/adolescence) and somewhat ineffectual, overly romantic father, against the backdrop of Iran in the '50s, 60's and 70's. Nafisi also writes about her education outside of Iran, in t...more
Laila Haerian
I am not a big fan of memoirs but this one kept me engaged. Maybe because of the familiarity with the events/era/culture that she was describing.

In some of the toughest time (Iran-Iraq war, Cultural Revolution, bombing of Tehran) they formed a reading group and it helped them to keep on. I liked that a lot and reminded me of "the guernsey literary and potato pie peel society" reading group. :)

the summary of the 20th century events in Iran at the last chapter was great.

I listened to the audiobo...more
Alex Templeton
Another category of books not to read anymore: Books I Think I Need to Read Or I Am a Bad Literary Enthusiast. I picked this book up for that reason (as I am still feeling vaguely guilty about not yet having read "Reading Lolita in Tehran"), but was pleasantly surprised how engaging this book was, as both a personal history and a personal history of being Iranian during the revolutionary period. I found myself a bit lost in the discussion of Iranian power struggles (as I did when reading "Persep...more
I'd heard interviews with this author on NPR and was intrigued enough by what I'd heard to seek out this book. Unfortunately, it was a rather disappointing read relative to my expectations. Much of the book centers around Nafisi's mother and the difficult relationships she (the mother) had with her children, her husband and her close friends. Even though Nafisi is an accomplished and grown woman now, it still felt as if the narrative came from an adolescent's view of the world, without any insig...more
I had heard so many positives about Reading Lolita in Tehran (which I haven't read) and was curious about Iran, since I know so little about the history, so I decided to read this one. I was very disappointed; the novel is dense, yet repetitive, and very complaining. I have a feeling that her mother was quite typical of mothers in Iran, but I could be wrong. The mother and father were passive-aggressive types and enablers of each other. Their relationship with each other and the author didn't se...more
I liked this book. Definitely not as much as her other book, Reading Lolita in Tehran", which is one of my favorites. However, I think this is an important book. It is essentially the author's biography in which she unfolds for us her love of stories because of or in spite of her volatile relationship with her mother and an ever changing political climate in Iran. It is a good reminder that a government or political figure is rarely, if ever, the face and hearts of the people.
It reminds us why...more
Intellectual Iranian university teacher writes about her life in Iran as part of a privileged, political family. She becomes involved in the Iranian Revolution and changes loyalties as the political scene changes and various factions take power. She lives through the Islamic Revolution, and refuses to wear a veil, although she is not punished or jailed because of her stance. Her writing is filled with disagreements with her mother and literary teachings of her father. I kept reading the book bec...more
Maria Grazia
Autobiografia della Nafisi, famosa per Leggere Lolita a Teheran, in realtà narrazione biografica di una famiglia e un'epoca, viziata dai controversi rapporti tra il padre e la madre.
Avrebbe potuto essere molto interessante dato il momento in cui si svolge la parte centrale - vale a dire la rivoluzione islamica - date le persone coinvoltee - il padre fu sindcaco di Teheran e la madre una delle prime donne parlamentari sotto lo Shah - invece è spesso confusa, piena di fatti ininfluenti e disartico...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Honeymoon in Tehran: Two Years of Love and Danger in Iran
  • Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran
  • The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran
  • Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran
  • A Border Passage: From Cairo to America – A Woman's Journey
  • Caspian Rain
  • Censoring an Iranian Love Story
  • The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban
  • Story-Wallah: Short Fiction from South Asian Writers
  • The Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten War
  • Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad
  • Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran
  • Persian Girls: A Memoir
  • Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran
  • Iran Awakening
  • The Muslim Discovery of Europe
  • Leaving India: My Family's Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents
  • My Prison, My Home: One Woman's Story of Captivity in Iran
Azar Nafisi, Ph.D. (Persian: آذر نفیسی) (born December 1955) is an Iranian professor and writer who currently resides in the United States.

Nafisi's bestselling book Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books has gained a great deal of public attention and been translated into 32 languages.

More about Azar Nafisi...
Reading Lolita in Tehran My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes: Uncensored Iranian Voices The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books Gatsby دایی جان ناپلئون

Share This Book

“I no longer believe that we can keep silent. We never really do, mind you. In one way or another we articulate what has happened to us through the kind of people we become.” 43 likes
“The revolution taught me not to be consoled by other people's miseries, not to feel thankful because so many others had suffered more. Pain and loss, like love and joy, are unique and personal; they cannot be modified by comparison to others. ” 9 likes
More quotes…