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21 Nov 2008 15:54No Comments

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Transit Tehran: Young Iran and Its Inspirations

Edited by MAZIAR BAHARI and MALU HALAS Reviewed by OLIVIA SNAIJE

[Alef Magazine] Two thirds of Iran's population is under thirty years old. The Islamic Revolution, meanwhile, is not yet thirty. This intelligently edited anthology of essays, short stories, photographs and illustrations explores youth culture in Iran's megalopolis.

There are many Tehrans. We are given martyrs-in-training, a beloved, charismatic imam with his followers, post-Revolutionary spatial politics, interviews with survivors of the Shah's regime, a glimpse into the indignities of traffic court and much more. A group of female football fans struggles to gain admittance to all-male stadiums; we visit a school for women clerics; there are startling photos of female police cadets like chador-clad action heroines; and a gentle portrait of a transsexual truck driver.

The city's mean streets, rife with hard crime and drugs, are covered compassionately and unflinchingly in two essays. Contemporary artists like Nicky Nodjumi and Khosrow Hassanzadeh are showcased. Iranian hip hop, grim morality police, dreamy narrators groping for meaning: they're all here. Too few in the West or East have enquired enough into what makes Iran, a vast and diverse country, tick. Tehran is a good place to start. This is the right book for the right times.
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