** The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay by Hooman Majd


The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran is the story of an Iranian-born man, exiled with his family in the West since a very early age, and his American wife and son who spend a year in Tehran as a cultural experiment. The book is an uneasy mix of personal experiences in cultural adaptation (after all, even he has never lived in Iran, apart from a few months) and serious considerations about politics and foreign affairs. In my mind, the personal wins handily, from the strangers feting his infant son to the complicated bargaining dances of cab drivers and the strange unevenness of the modesty police. The political I found rather boring. But the stories of everyday life vividly render the well-known pollution of Tehran, in the form of his son’s filthy clothes after crawling on the daily-mopped floor and the daily evasion of the Facebook prohibition. The most telling political stories in the book come straight from the scenes of daily life, since everyone seems to be discussing politics, from taxi drivers to the cable guy.

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