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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

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  4,567 ratings  ·  413 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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Lisa Found it disappointing. It comes up often in discussion, but I found it to be a very limited book, too focussed on one young woman's ambivalence about…moreFound it disappointing. It comes up often in discussion, but I found it to be a very limited book, too focussed on one young woman's ambivalence about her cultural heritage and relationship to the U.S. when she had the potential for a much more penetrating discussion of ethnicity, identity, etc. (less)

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Start your review of Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran
May 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-east
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
Ali Tehrani
Nov 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
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,
Nov 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Connie G
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
Shah Saguna
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
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
Jun 01, 2008 added it
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. However, the fact that she was a young w ...more
Oct 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: i-tried
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
Jenn Fields
Nov 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Illuminating, but there's no transformation to offer the reader closure beyond the author's building sadness and disillusionment.
Nov 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008, memoir, book-club
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.
Lacey Louwagie
I love to travel, but I hate airplanes and fear "traveler's diarrhea." I also am risk-averse, and know that, realistically, I will probably never work up the guts to travel to the more politically dangerous areas of the world even if I could scrounge up the money and vacation time to do so. It's because of this that I love books like this one, in which a knowledgeable guide takes me deeper into a place than I could ever go on my own.

In a country like Iran, this is even more important -- not only
Aug 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 24, 2009 rated it liked it
I continue my fascination with Iran. Moaveni's account is interesting, though it could easily have been tightened up and could have included a lot more observational material. A bit repetitive. I found interesting her discussion of the clerical class. . .lazy, slothful, fat, greedy, and sexually predatory. Was fascinated by the move toward eastern religions and a rampant turning away from Islam as it is forced upon the people. Repression has led to closeted sex, flirtation, and drug use. The cou ...more
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Robinson
Apr 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
The author was born in America to Iranian exile parents and returns to Iran as a Time Magazine reporter to try to figure out where she belongs, if she can honor and live with her Iranian heritage, and if she can figure out how to wear cute outfits in such an oppressive society. The book is often a fascinating look at life in Iran, both more normal than I would have thought as well as scary, violent and
arbitrary. It is amazing to see how Iranians navigage, often in great style, around the strict
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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!
Mrs. Miska
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kathleen
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
Feisty Harriet
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-east, iran
This memoir details the double coming-of-age of Azadeh, an Iranian-American who grew up in California in a diaspora of displaced Iranian immigrants who fled Tehran after the revolution in 1979. Her parents are not particularly Muslim (as many weren’t in the 70′s, prior to the strict enforcement of Islam by the new government) but their language, customs, traditions, foods and smells are different enough to alienate her from her native Californian classmates. After college, Azadeh decides to retu ...more
Susan Hester
May 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Becky Johnson
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
So a memoir, but not in a easily followed chronological narrative. I feel like it started as essays because she explains the same thing a couple times, in the same way. She includes dates when necessary but not always and the editing was a bit loose-now for know, garage for garbage. All that being said-super interesting first hand account of a woman post college in her first career move from America in Iran. She is Iranian by birth and has a longing for the country she knows only through memory ...more
Jul 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Rlmteacher marcus
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A great and very accurate portrayal of growing up as a first generation Iranian-American.
Hassan Abdulnabi
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An extremely enticing read, I was enamored by all the experiences the writer went through...very eye opening, intimate & personal ...more
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
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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 covered the Middle East for almost two decades. She covered the Iraq War for the Los Angeles Times, and was a correspondent for Time based in Tehran, reporting on Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Iran. She is a contributor to The Guardian, The New York Times , ...more

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“As we drove away, I asked Dariush whether it was not a relief that under Khatami, such run-ins happened a couple times a year, instead of every weekend. He gave me a searching look. “However infrequent, I do not find any consolation in the fact that my fate is determined by the whim of an armed sixteen-year-old.” 0 likes
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