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The Bathhouse

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  228 ratings  ·  47 reviews
With intense emotion and great literary skill, Farnoosh Moshiri has written one of the most moving novels to come out in years. The story begins with the arrest of a seventeen-year-old girl in the early days of the fundamentalist revolution in Iran. Imprisoned because of her brother's involvement with leftist politics, she is placed in a makeshift jail, a former bathhouse, ...more
Paperback, 152 pages
Published April 15th 2003 by Beacon Press (first published April 1st 2001)
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3.77  · 
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 ·  228 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an amazing book. I could not put it down. I had to finish it. The raw brutality of this narrative wrenched me and the quick pacing kept me on edge. I actually really enjoy Iranian literature and am always looking for something that speaks to the troubles that riddle that area of the world- especially the gender prejudice and I felt like this book not only gave voice to that, but also to the zeal of religious fundamentalism in a very honest, straightforward narrative. We see the loss of ...more
Suraia Munia
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural, ya
This was a good book but i dreaded reading it. It was depressing to read about how one human can torture another. While the language was simple and touching, it would be better if the author had given a bit more insight into the characters. Overall it is a book worth reading.
Jul 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-political
A shocking story of the treatment of Iranian people under Khomeini. It is sad to think how cruel we can be to our fellow human beings, once we've decided they are 'other' - other race, other religion, other political persuasion.

An admirably brave book, which, if it only makes some people realise what went on under Khomeini, and to consider if it could happen in our own country, is a great contribution to the world.
Becki Basley
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
A terrifying audiobook story about a woman taken prisoner in the early days of the Fundamentalist Revolution in Iran. Arrested and sent to a converted bathhouse, she experiences horrifying abuse and witnesses even more horrifying situations.
I feel you would have to know more of the backstory about the political situation in Iran at the time to fully understand what was going on. And the ending of the book is rather abrupt but the description and thoughtfulness in the telling of the story makes

This novel blew me away. The levels of injustice are completely astounding; the amount of torture one person can endure is heartbreaking. Set in 1970s Iran, we follow a teenage girl who just wants to live life undisturbed. Unfortunately, with the rise of religious extremists, she is forced into a world of unbelievable torture and pain. My heart continued to break throughout this novel. It's not for the faint of heart.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Considering the subject matter, I felt this book fell flat, especially since the novel is based on women's real life stories of similar experiences. A much better, similar book is The Pearl that Broke Its Shell.
I seem to be reading a run of fairly dire stories, so after this I've just picked up some potentially mindless chicklit.
For some reason I thought this was set in Afghanistan, and as that was the theme of the advanced EFL class I just taught, I wondered if this would be something to use in the future. It's not Afghanistan, but Iran, although scenes from the film Osama which my class watched were very reminiscent of the scenes described here.
I find I don't really have too much to say - I thought
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This short novel describes the capture and captivity of a young Iranian girl who is arrested after Iran was overtaken and the religious extremists took over, and curfews and blackouts become the norm. The girl in this novel endures all sorts of torture in the name of religion as her captors try to break her spirit and even execute her family and friends around her. Though very short, this novel is compelling, you can feel the horrors that each woman experiences and their pain as they try to make ...more
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookcrossing, iran
The quiet endurance of the girl as she suffers the indignities of captivity is unsettling to read about. One wishes she would react at some point, either by reason or by insanity, as some of her fellow prisoners did.
Although she does construct meaning out of her ordeal - as the first person narrator she is 'writing' an account that is considerably more substantial than her superficial adolescent journals which are taken away from her upon her arrest - it is uncertain whether she matures enough
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book was a nice, quick read in between books that made me think. It's a story about prisoners in a makeshift jail in Iran during a time of political turmoil, and these prisoners are treated very poorly in hopes of getting them to reveal information their captors want. The author talked to several people about their experiences, and then wove together a story about this bathhouse. I think that if the woman was writing from her own perspective, she might have captured a certain "je ne sais qu ...more
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Based on real life interviews, this short novel tells the story of a young student arrested and put into prison in Iran when the regime of the Shah collapsed. Lent by a friend after reading The Blood of Flowers, we had talked about in book group how in that novel the bathhouse was the source of gossip, secrets, and a place where women would share stories and friendship. Here in the novel the bathhouse becomes a place of surreal terror. A short page turning novel that makes me want to read more I ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a very quick read - I read it in one sitting. The book is a first person account of prison life in Iran as told by a 17 year old school girl who is arrested because her brother is a political activist. The story takes place in an old bathhouse that is converted to a prison by the Islamic Republic. Her story to survive and try to maintain her dignity is a fascinating yet disturbing tale.

The incidents in The Bathhouse are based on interviews with victims of Khomeini's repressive regime.
The Bathhouse is written in simple language (with some swearing), but unlike many other reviews online, I did not find it overly riveting or compelling. Farnoosh Moshiri meshes real life situations with a fictional tale to convey the horrors many woman (and men) faced in Iran during the fundamentalist revolution. A high school girl is arrested due to her family's leftist political involvement and she is detained in a makeshift jail in a former bathhouse. The conditions are horrid and their suffe ...more
Claudia Fiorini
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I still remember the characters after few months I finished the book. It makes me think how human nature is. What people can do to survive under torture. What a human can do to another. It reminds me of the book "the doll house" and the Nazi Camps during WWII. It is sad to think nothing changed. It has changed only the reason: now religion over then purity of a race. And the worse is: the people outside know and at the same time they pretend not to know about the bathhouse. Like then for the naz ...more
Katy Haupt
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I liked this novel because it's realistic. No frills, no sugar coated happy ending. It is straight forward about what the main character is going through and thinking, relaying the same thoughts and desires of the reader. Her wants and thoughts become yours. Her pain is your pain.
It's difficult to reason with yourself that though this tale is fiction, there are places in the world that this is a very true reality.
I definitely recommend this short read.
Feb 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Reading this book is like reading a horror novel - only this is based on true events. I found the language riveting, and liked the objectivity of the first person narrator. The only difficulty I see readers having is the lack of historical context - the reader is literally thrown into the novel without explanation. I recommend reading Persepolis first in order to gain context, then moving onto this haunting work.
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I found this story very disturbing. It is well written in simple language. An ideology derived from religion and mix in with politics is a recipe for disaster. Especially in this part of the world. At the end the reader will have a lasting memory of the narrator's horendous experienced in captivity. A book worth reading.

Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
What I found most disturbing about this book was the fact that the women took such a big role in torturing the other women....Women that just weeks or months before were in the same position. When her brother says we would have done the same to them if we'd won, I was discussed. How can people be so evil?
Andrea Facio
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Listened to this one on audio. Chilling and haunting and horrifying at points to hear the way these women are treated. Very eye-opening view of something we hear so little about in the mainstream. Captivating and humbling. You feel deeply for these women and remember to be thankful for your own freedoms.
Mar 14, 2010 rated it liked it
This was so hard to read, the subject matter is so gruesome and depressing. It's a high school graduate's narrative of what happens to her and other prisoners, mostly women, when they are kept in an old bathhouse by religious zealots. As difficult as it is, I should read and learn more about this era.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Dec 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: place-iran
Chilling. Wonderful to read in conjunction with Reading Lolita in Tehran A Memoir in Books and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis books.
Aug 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It was elegant in its simplicity. The protagonist's horrific experience of torture and wrongful imprisonment is scary and reminds me how thin the cloak of civilized behavior really is. We really can be barbaric to each other at times. But always there are the threads of decency, of courage and love.
Oct 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who is capable on reading about torture.
Recommended to Rosabay by: The Book Club
I never read a book with such violence. I couldnt stop reading it because I just really was wishing the ending was a good one. Which it just lead me to keep thinking about the book. A good book always leaves you thinking.
This audiobook was sometimes difficult to listen to because of the subject matter. It was a very moving story of a young woman trying to survive after being put in prison for her brother's political activism. I can't really say I enjoyed it because of the subject, but it was very insightful.
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic
This book was assigned for a class and it was an easier read but just a spectacular story. I recommend this only if you are interested in the topic. Some scenes are graphic and can be descriptive. Overall a truly amazing story.
Jun 11, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in Middle Eastern culture
This was a quick read, in part because the language was so simple, but also because it's hard to put it down! The story of the narrator is sad and compelling, and she is a sympathetic character that any woman can identify with to some extent. Overall, an interesting and sad read!
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iran
a terrifyingly real account of life in a post revolutionary prison (a converted bathhouse) in Iran; especially for young women - who were routinely raped on the eve of their execution since killing a virgin is a sin. creepy and riveting.
Michelle Winters
Mar 02, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm not sure how to describe this book but to say it gives a frighteningly real view of some of the atrocities happening in our world today. Seen through the eyes of one woman, it feels real, confusing, scary, appalling, shocking and bitter sweet all at once.
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Not a fun read, but a grim and sobering work of fiction. Told in a matter of fact tone as by a young person introduced to a shocking reality of imprisonment, torture and execution, it feels very real.
Sabrina Davis
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-it, college
Brutally raw I couldn't bring myself to put it down. The ending killed me -- I need more!
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Iranian born writer Farnoosh Moshiri has published plays, short stories, and translations in Iranian literary magazines before the 1979 revolution and in anthologies published outside Iran in the 1980s. In 1983, she fled her country after a massive arrest of secular intellectuals, feminists, and political activists. She lived in refugee camps of Afghanistan and India for four years before emigrati ...more
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