The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran
By Hooman Majd
Doubleday, 2013. 252 pages. Nonfiction.
Hooman Majd, an American Iranian journalist whose father was forced to flee Iran with the fall of the shah in 1979, decides to take his American wife and newborn baby to spend a year in the land of his birth - Iran. What follows is an adventure that will help readers see the complexity of life in a land made off-limits to most as a result of Western sanctions, from the joys of traditional Persian culture to the frequent inanities of a government that is paranoid, at best and fearsome at its worst.
Majd presents a really fascinating look at a country most Americans have not seen. What I liked most about it was the balanced nature of what he reported - he shows many ways in which he preferred Iranian culture to Western culture, and vice versa. Beyond the culture, he also explains the politics behind the long-standing disagreement between the US and the West and the ayatollahs and President Ahmadinejad and how Western sanctions have both hurt and strengthened the common citizen more than we realize. Overall, a fascinating look at an interesting culture and country.