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Jasmin Darznik's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Jasmin Darznik recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Jasmin Darznik's favorite book recommendations of all time.


My Uncle Napoleon

A teenage boy makes the mistake of falling in love with the much-protected daughter of his uncle, mischievously nicknamed after his hero Napoleon Bonaparte, the curmudgeonly self-appointed patriarch of a large and extended Iranian family in 1940s Tehran. This edition features an introduction by author and literature professor Azar Nafisi, an informative preface by the translator, a list of characters, a map of Iran, a glossary of terms, an afterward by the author, and questions for reading group discussion. Reprint. 10,000 first printing. less
Recommended by Jasmin Darznik, Pooneh Ghoddoosi, and 2 others.

Jasmin DarznikMy Uncle Napoleon’s humour runs very much to slapstick and farce…It is not something that they are well known for outside of Iran, but Iranians have a very highly defined sense of the absurd. Perhaps having endured so many wars, revolutions and occupations has given them a gift for making farce out of tragedy. (Source)

Pooneh GhoddoosiYou know how in any TV series or book, each character is a prototype of a personality in the world? Well this book is the best example of that. It explains the whole society of Iran using a handful of people in the most understandable way, especially if you are not familiar with the culture. I have lent this book to friends, if only so as to make them understand what goes on in the Iranian... (Source)

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Women Without Men

A Novel of Modern Iran

"Using the techniques of both the fabulist and the polemicist, Parsipur continues her protest against traditional Persian gender relations in this charming, powerful novella."—Publishers Weekly

A modern literary masterpiece, Women Without Men creates an evocative and powerfully drawn allegory of life in contemporary Iran. Internationally acclaimed writer Shahrnush Parsipur follows the interwoven destinies of five women—including a prostitute, a wealthy middle-aged housewife, and a schoolteacher—as they arrive by different paths to live together in a garden in...

Recommended by Jasmin Darznik, and 1 others.

Jasmin DarznikThis novel is the story of five women who escape their varied torments and convene in a garden outside Tehran. The events may or may not be the 1950s – the historical references are somewhat obscure. Parsipur had been imprisoned in 1974 under the shah, but this is the novel that landed her in jail many more times, led to the banning of all her books, and ultimately forced her to seek refugee... (Source)

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For the first time, the work of Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad is being brought to English-speaking readers through the perspective of a translator who is a poet in her own right, fluent in both Persian and English and intimately familiar with each culture. Sin includes the entirety of Farrokhzad's last book, numerous selections from her fourth and most enduring book, Reborn, and selections from her earlier work and creates a collection that is true to the meaning, the intention, and the music of the original poems.
Farrokhzad was the most significant female Iranian poet of the...
Recommended by Jasmin Darznik, and 1 others.

Jasmin DarznikFarrokhzad wrote five poetry books, and a sixth book of hers was published posthumously. There have been other translations into English, but this one by the Iranian-American poet Sholeh Wolpe is the best I have encountered. The translations are precise, but also fluid and quite beautiful. She pulls poems from all of Forugh’s work. The volume is a fantastic introduction to her work for a... (Source)

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Filling a long-neglected gap in the travel writing of the region, Jason Elliot's Mirrors of the Unseen is a rare and timely portrait of the nation descended from the world's earliest superpower: Iran. Animated by the same spirit of exploration as its acclaimed predecessor, An Unexpected Light, and drawing on several years of independent travel and research, this thought-provoking work weaves together observations of life in contemporary Iran with history, politics, and a penetrating enquiry into the secrets of Islamic art. Generously illustrated with the author's own sketches... more
Recommended by Jasmin Darznik, and 1 others.

Jasmin DarznikGiven the history between the countries, it may be a bit of a travesty that I have picked an Englishman to tell us about Iran! The word “orientalist” has such unsavoury connotations these days. But I think of Elliot as an orientalist in the best sense of the word – an outsider guided by a deep curiosity about the Middle East, and devoted to understanding it better. He has also written an account... (Source)

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Shah of Shahs

In Shah of Shahs Kapuscinski brings a mythographer's perspective and a novelist's virtuosity to bear on the overthrow of the last Shah of Iran, one of the most infamous of the United States' client-dictators, who resolved to transform his country into "a second America in a generation," only to be toppled virtually overnight. From his vantage point at the break-up of the old regime, Kapuscinski gives us a compelling history of conspiracy, repression, fanatacism, and revolution. less
Recommended by Steve Crawshaw, Jasmin Darznik, and 2 others.

Steve CrawshawKapuściński’s writing has a poetry to it that I adore. He was a journalist, working for the Polish state news agency, writing a lot of routine stories. Books were his release, a chance to get at the inner truth of what was happening. Some have accused him of imagining too much, but I remain loyal. Fundamentally, he doesn’t distort in the big picture. He lets things speak. It’s like a playwright’s... (Source)

Jasmin DarznikKapuscinski is widely regarded as the greatest travel writer of the 20th century. Polish by birth, he witnessed some 40 revolutions and wars during his time as a journalist. He had already built a long and illustrious career when he found his way to Iran on the eve of the 1979 revolution. At that moment it was still a populist revolution rather than an Islamic one – the contours of the revolution... (Source)

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