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Vrouwen zonder mannen

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,697 ratings  ·  271 reviews
De auteur brengt in deze prachtige en ingetogen novelle vijf vrouwen bijeen. Twee ongetrouwde vrouwen,een prostituee, een huisvrouwen een lerares ontmoeten elkaar in een magische tuin, even buiten Teheran. Zij ontvluchten de maatschappelijke en seksuele beperkingen waar zij in hun land voortdurend mee geconfronteerd worden. In de tuin, die een metafoor is voor het paradijs ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published 2006 by Bulaaq (first published 1989)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Women without Men (‎Syracuse‬: ‎Syracuse university Press‬, ‎1998), Shahrnush Parsipur

Five women set out to escape the oppressive restrictions of family and social life in contemporary Iran. A prostitute, a wealthy, middle-aged housewife, two seemingly desperate "old maids, " and a woman whose career ended after her boss asked her out share a common quest for independence that may be fulfilled in a garden villa. Through murder, suicide, even rape, as well as love, contemplation, and spiritual tr
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Oh great, I get to be a book club naysayer for the third time out of three, on the second book in a row that I voted for out of ten total potentials. I'm averaging 2.666 on club-related ratings here, which incidentally makes me happy because 666, but primarily makes me feel like Asshole McChoosy-pants. I hope the candidates I put forward all end up middling-to-sucky, or I'm sure going to look like a real taste snob. I swear I am not blindly obstinate. I double-swear I like books. Much.

The truth
I read a review that claimed that this is not a feminist novel. If it were a feminist novel, the characters would not rely on men, they would assert themselves powerfully at all times, and their lives would be better for it.

Umm, newsflash. A novel can be feminist without all its characters being feminists, strong women, and perfect all the time. That would be unrealistic and boring. Let's first understand that feminism is realism, i.e. realistic portrayal of women, including women who are not fe
Re-read - still a wonderful book

For the past few years, I have traveled to Washington DC and stayed a few days just to visit the museums. Plus, I live in Philly, so it’s like a two hour train trip. I’ve learned that the smaller Smithsonian tends to have the more interesting exhibits. I discovered a love for Whistler’s etchings at the Freer, and at the Hirshorn, I discovered that I do like some modern art and video installations. It was at the Hirshorn last summer that I heard of this book.
Shahrnush Parsipur was - is - persecuted in Iran, where she’s from, for this book (among other things). Partly because she dares talk about, you know, sex, virginity, female sexuality. Topics that are not to be mentioned ever.

‘Women Without Men’ does reference the title of the Hemingway work ‘Men Without Women’. I haven’t read the latter, but in the afterword to this book, it says it’s a book where ultimately a life without women isn't particularly satisfying. The same (but in reverse) is the c
Jan 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: author-on-lsd, wtf, iran
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I guess magical realism just isn't for me. Especially when I wasn't expecting it. I read this because I saw it in a list of feminist books written by women around the world, and since I'd never read something in this vein by an Iranian author (especially one who was improsined for writing this very work), I was looking forward to gaining some insight into Iranian culture through her eyes. The expectation for something more realist certainly didn't help, but even after I had readjusted my expecta ...more
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-of-women, iran
In a way, of course, the title is a lie. Women without men is an impossibility as long as women are defined first and foremost by their relationships to men, which obviously is no less true given the setting of the novel, but hardly unique to it either.

Women Without Men tell the story of a half-dozen women circling this issue while rarely able to confront it head-on - even if they do, even if they kill or die or return from death with the power to read minds or turn into a tree (yes, it's that k
This is a really wild novel, unlike any you'll ever read. Parsipur was banned in her native Iran; last I knew she was living in the States (she's taught at Brown U.). Parsipur deals with the limited choices women have in Iran, the violence they face for being raped, rebellious, for breaking even in small ways with the constrictive norm. The novella cannot of course take these issues head-on and so does so in a wildly imaginative way. Parsipur's women find their own haven--one woman becomes a tre ...more
Mar 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Women Without Men appears more like a poem than a novel. It is so infused with symbolism that one must either suspend reality, or imagine what Parsipur was trying to convey about the social and political climate at that point in Iran's history. Thankfully, the afterward that accompanied the edition of the novel that I read was most useful when tackling the latter task.

Women Without Men is unlike any other text I have read, and yet it's brevity makes it seem so light and simple, as though the sto
This reminded me of Herta Muller's writing - the same sense of the truth being hidden inside layers of allegory - not surprising since they are both writing out of a culture of censorship and oppression. However, I found Parsipur's allegories easier to understand.
Miriam Cihodariu
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iran
I liked this particular brand of magical realism. It doesn't resemble the Southern American style too much, and it's imbued enough with the mythos of both old and new Iran to make it super-interesting.

I see that the book is praised as being a feminist manifesto in fiction form, but that many people, who were reading it for this reason, were disappointed after discovering that the feminist message isn't the main message of the book. This didn't bother me.

It's not that the story is not feminist
Jun 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Women Without Men is a short novel made up of stories about five women who come together in a house with a garden in Karaj, outside Tehran. They include a wealthy middle-class wife and a prostitute.

Parsipur's stories involve the challenges women face in trying to live without men in Iran, featuring a debate about whether virginity is a curtain or a hole, rape, and the enforcement of notions of honour by women as well as men, as well as more everyday concerns. The stories are about people, not id
A.R. McKenna
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Women Without Men breaks my heart. It was difficult to read at times because of the stark violence and discrimination against women. As a Western woman, I am aware of the privileges I have over other women in the world. This was made very clear to me when I read the stories of these five women.

The magical realism in this novel is amazing and works so well with the plot and the characters. I absolutely love the storyline and the way the garden acts as a catalyst for change. The change is really
Bob Lopez
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrey Chu
It is very beautiful and poetic. One can also call this piece frank. However I am still struggling to unite the pieces together into a comprehensive story.
Also I am not completely sure how to make sense of these stories withing the feminist narrative.
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this so much! I wasnt expecting the speculative elements, but it had that balance of realism with a bit of magical elements in it that i love. Real good.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I must say, I expected a whole different kind of story from the description I read about the book. And a big surprise waited for me: it is so full of magical elements that your head is spinning and you get the message only when you reach the very last pages. I guess all those literature classes from high school, stuffed with allegories, metaphors and symbols, showed their utility now :D (view spoiler) ...more
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: global
I recently saw an exhibit at the Hirshhorn featuring Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat. I was intrigued by the title of a book, this book, that inspired Neshat's film of the same name. Many of the her other pieces dealt with gender segregation in modern Iranian society, the role of women in political movements, and what an individual does when one's choices are limited. So I checked out the book that inspired the film and understood why the two exiled artists were suited for collaboration. H ...more
Review originally posted at Eve's Alexandria, 2012.

Shahrnush Parsipur's splendidly subversive, funny and bitter little novella, Women Without Men (Zanan bedun mardan, 1989; translated from the Persian in 1998 by Kamran Talattof and Jocelyn Sharlet) is set in 1953, and tells the intertwined stories of five different Iranian women. Each is introduced in her own little vignette, and then is gradually drawn in towards the rest through both the machinations of the plot and, thematically, through th
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very quick read, and extremely allegorical...a bit too much for my taste, really, but very powerful because of it. I think part of my appreciation for the book stems from my respect for the author and the opposition (including inprisonment) that she has had to endure. And the imagery is really beautiful -- which is probably why Shirin Neshat decided to make the four short films for Prospect 1 based on this novella...which is what I saw and led me to this book.

Of course now I want to read Hemi
Jun 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My friend gave this to me; I wouldn't have known about it otherwise. It's muted writing, with a slight magical realism to it. I find myself reflecting on it further now that I've read The Bookseller of Kabul. The grave oppression that is evident in the nonfiction book is softened here, but there's also a peculiar affective flatness to the writing. It's as though the beauty and subversiveness of the ideas, given the cultural context from which the book came, had to be framed in an understated man ...more
Atimia Atimia
It was okay. There was a good joke in there, but the surrealism just never really worked for me. It was kind of just stated as a fact that had to be accounted for, without really drawing you into anything that felt magical or strange. The transformations and all that didn't really seem to carry much significance either, but that could very well be my lack of understanding. It's basically a story where a vast majority of men is horrible, but when it comes down to it, the women don't really get al ...more
Elaine Klincik
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strong female characters in a repressive environment. It was an interesting look at the Iranian culture in recent decades. I always find it shocking to see how little value is given to a woman's life in that culture. Though the story dealt with very heavy themes, the interweaving of humor and magic realism left me feeling hopeful for their futures. The ending left me breathless. I may not have loved the entire book, but I LOVED the ending.
Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Well, it was an interesting book (I don't understand why the author was jailed for it, I don't see anything that could be disruptive in this book). I came with different expectations when I started it...
Now I see it more as a metaphor for women's lives in Iran. One of the women turns into a tree, to be free to wander the world, other accidently kills her husband... Either way, they seek a safe heaven, to be free, but ultimately this is not possible.
The translation on this reads really awkward most of the time and makes it harder to wrap your head around what’s going on. There were so many instances in which I tried to think of what the actual phrasing was in Farsi that lead to its translation because it just didn’t flow right sometimes. I think I’m definitely going to try reading this again in Farsi.
Rikke Henneberg
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a delightful, if as time strange little book. It mixes magical realism with gender politics to great effect. The Danish translation feels very true to the original prose and is beautiful. The book is very grounded in 1953's Iran and the magical elements underscore the predicaments of the women rather than detract from them in my opinion.
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short, magical novel reads more like poetry than prose. Parsipur writes about the limited (and often horrifying) choices of women in modern Iran, and although I didn't love each part of this book equally, there are some gorgeous, haunting lines that made it well worth the read.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parsipur's five women:
- Mahdokht decides to plant herself as a tree
- Fa'iza has an important message to tell
- Munis dies and is resurrected twice
- Farrokhlaga is unhappily married, and then widowed
- Zarry sees men without their heads - and gives birth to a morning glory
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“In a deserted stretch of the Karadj highway Munis had come face-to-face with unbridled lust, although she knew what lust was before being touched by it. The problem was that she had an unbounded awareness of things, an awareness that instilled undue caution in her, making her fearful that action would lead to ignominy, humiliation. This created in her a desire to be ordinary, average. Yet she did not truly know what it meant to be ordinary. She did not know that it meant not loving an earthworm, not genuflecting at the altar of withered leaves, not standing in prayer at the call of a lark, not climbing a mountain to see the sunrise, not staying awake all night to gaze at the Ursa Major. She did not differentiate between earth and gravel, but she distinguished the earth from the sky. She had not seen the skies of the earth, but she knew there were earths of the sky. She saw herself in an inevitable process of stagnation. She was already partially rotten within.
"What can I do with this mass of trivial knowledge?" she wondered aloud. "How can I cut through it?”
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