Monday, January 21, 2008

Women of Deh Koh

Originally published in 1989, Women of Deh Koh gives voice to some women in a mountain village in Iran. Friedl did her research over a twenty year span so she was there before and after the Revolution, and the women in the book comment occasionally on the different regimes. I especially enjoyed the chapter about Sarah in which her young granddaughter kept quoting her new religion teacher, sent by the new government, and the women just kept responding with normal day to day arguments that the child was not prepared for (I probably would have been that young child, though - I remember coming home from school in first or second grade and preaching about recycling after a class on it). For example, while the adults are discussing a man's desire for a second wife, the girl quotes part of the Koran, about how if a man can fulfill a certain amount of requirements (equal treatment and equality between the wives being the biggest concern), then it was perfectly acceptable. The women just made comments about how that was a lot of conditions, so in other words, there was no way it was possible. For the most part, Friedl tries to keep her voice out of the stories (although in one she appears as the "foreign lady"), but obviously she chose which stories to tell and how to tell them, so that's where her influence comes into the book. For the most part, the book is a series of anecdotes about women's lives in the village, most told from the third person, but a few of the chapters are narrated by the women themselves and not just observed. In one case, Friedl makes a point about changing truths and perspectives and uses four different women's versions of the same situation to portray this.

Unfortunately, the last book I read about women and Islam was also from the late 80's/early 90's so I really need to find a book that has a more recent analysis of Islamic culture and society. I read Reading Lolita in Tehran a while back, and it was interesting, but I think maybe I just need to read a basic history book before I keep reading these more specific books. Also, when I read Reading Lolita in Tehran, I was more inspired to read the novels they discussed in the book than more about Iran (though I do remember liking it). That inspiration didn't last very long, though, since I didn't like Lolita very much.


Anonymous said...

When do you take the LSAT? It seems like all the officers that I know who were English majors (I am correct, yes?) go on to Law School when they get out and become negative and cynical lawyers. But they make more money, and go to nicer New Year's Eve Parties

Jen K said...

You're right about the English major part, but not the LSAT - at some point in the future, I'm going to take the GRE (which means I should probably study for it at some point). The plan is to get out and become a cynical English professor but I can't take the GRE in Iraq, and I'm not sure if they offer the GRE subject exam in Germany or not.

Anonymous said...

Forget being a professor. Tenure is impossible, you have to be adjunct and work at several schools. Go to Law School, make some bucks, and then you can write, and you can dictate the terms. (set the battlefield, so to speak)