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Women without men : a novella
Shahrnush Parsipur
Adult Fiction PARSIPU

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Using the techniques of both the fabulist and the polemicist, Paripur (Prison Memoirs) continues her protest against traditional Persian gender relations in this charming yet powerful novella. Imprisoned once for her dissident views, Paripur, a native of Iran, offers her five characters the opportunity to escape the relationships and mores that constrain them. All of the characters are led to the same metaphorical magic garden, a transcendent, timeless place where they are free to decide their fates. In most instances, this amounts to a rejection of men and marriage. Like Ovid's Daphne, Mahdokht transforms herself into a tree in order to prevent the shameful loss of her virginity. Munis, a 38-year-old virgin, is attacked and killed by her brother for refusing to obey him. She rises from the dead a psychic, heads for the garden and is raped along the way. Farrokhlaqa, a wealthy matron, accidentally kills her oppressive husband of 32 years. She then buys the magical garden where the women congregate. Only Zarrinkolah, the prostitute, discovers wedded bliss when she marries the "good gardener." The voices of the five separate narrators‘delicately connected by plot and circumstance‘give us variations on the theme of the mistreatment of women in contemporary Iran. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Parsipur here synthesizes the voices of five women in contemporary Iran. Women without men‘a prostitute, two unmarried women, a housewife, and a teacher‘they all face serious oppression largely because of gender discrimination, cultural traditions, and notions of virginity and women's sexuality. They also seek and find freedom and some solace in the same garden. This garden, located in Karaj, near Tehran, becomes their utopia; the teacher Mahdokht becomes so distraught that she decides to plant herself like a tree in the garden and thus escape reality. Not Parsipur's first work of fiction on women in Iranian society, this novel often reads like a fairy tale, but it launches a strong statement about gender relations in Parsipur's home country. Parsipur currently lives in the United States. Recommended for fiction collections.‘Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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