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A Reader's Guide to the Bathhouse by Farnoosh Moshiri

A Reader's Guide to the Bathhouse by Farnoosh Moshiri

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Published by Beacon Press

Here is a reader's guide to The Bathhouse by Farnoosh. With intense emotion and great literary skill, Farnoosh Moshiri has written one of the most moving novels to come out in years. The story begins with the arrest of a seventeen-year-old girl in the early days of the fundamentalist revolution in Iran. Imprisoned because of her brother's involvement with leftist politics, she is placed in a makeshift jail, a former bathhouse, in which other women are held captive. With a gripping narrative, Moshiri gives voice to these prisoners, exploring their torment and struggle, but also their courage and humanity, in the face of tyrants.

Here is a reader's guide to The Bathhouse by Farnoosh. With intense emotion and great literary skill, Farnoosh Moshiri has written one of the most moving novels to come out in years. The story begins with the arrest of a seventeen-year-old girl in the early days of the fundamentalist revolution in Iran. Imprisoned because of her brother's involvement with leftist politics, she is placed in a makeshift jail, a former bathhouse, in which other women are held captive. With a gripping narrative, Moshiri gives voice to these prisoners, exploring their torment and struggle, but also their courage and humanity, in the face of tyrants.

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Published by: Beacon Press on Nov 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/29/2013

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Reading Guide:
The Bathhouse
 
The Bathhouse Author: Farnoosh Moshiri  Binding Information: Paperback Price: $13.00 In stock."Written with the simple authority of an oral deposition, packing the punch of 
 All Quiet on theWestern Front 
, this is both a resolutely nonpartisan anti-revolutionary brief and a gripping,harrowing story of personal courage and endurance."
 — 
 Booklist 
, starred review
"It's hard to stop reading… Horrible as it is, you don't want to turn away from the girl's first
-person nightmare. The language in
The Bathhouse
is simple, the dialogue taut, the tensionimmediate."
 — 
 Houston Chronicle
 "Even as the prison strips away all hope, Moshiri never once lets us forget the humanity of thewomen of 
The Bathhouse
as they form a family, with all of a family's capacity for support,betrayal, despair, and dignity.
The Bathhouse
is beautiful and excruciating, written with suchgrace that it seems to exist out of time."
 — 
Simone Zelitch, author of 
 Louisa
 "A gut-wrenching, eye-opening novel.
The Bathhouse
shows what happens when ideology runsamok. It honors the humanity and sacrifice of the victims."
 — 
Tacoma News Tribune
 
Contents
 
 
 
 
 
About the Book
Farnoosh Moshiri's
The Bathhouse
is a chilling and strikingly moving narrative of a girlhaphazardly caught in the claws of an extremist political regime. The novel introduces aseventeen-year-old high school graduate in Iran in the early 1980's, as Ayatollah Khomeini'sShiite Revolution began to grow in authoritarian power. One late August evening, the girl is
 
arrested at her home along with her politically active brother and sister-in-law and imprisoned ina former bathhouse. The girl, who remains nameless throughout the narrative, suffers captivityand torture reserved for political prisoners, while developing subtle, complex relationships toother prisoners and even prison staff.The novel is removed from particular issues of politics and instead focuses on the girl'sexperience in prison. Her story is told in simple, journalistic prose, thus making the book bothcompelling and personal. Riveting and shocking, this powerful story also offers the reader aninspirational tale of courage and survival.back to contents 
About the Author
Born into an Iranian literary family, Farnoosh Moshiri received herMaster's degree in drama from the University of Iowa in 1979, thenreturned to Iran. In 1983 she was one of a group of actors andplaywrights who were ordered to sign an agreement to obey thedictates of the new regime. They refused. Moshiri wentunderground, eventually escaping with her infant son toAfghanistan, then to India where she wrote in a closet, the onlyplace she could find privacy in the one-room flat she shared withother refugees. She has lived in Houston since 1987 and is agraduate of the University of Houston's creative writing program.Currently, she teaches at Montgomery College in Houston.Her first novel
 At the Wall of the Almighty
(Interlink, 1999) was well reviewed, and her secondnovel,
The Bathhouse
(published in hardcover 2001, Black Heron Press), received the Black Heron Press award for social fiction.back to contents 
Personal Essay by the Author
Before
The Bathhouse
 
I was born under the sign of the scorpion, on July 14, 1951
 — 
Bastille Day. When my mother wasin labor in a hot hospital room in the center of Tehran, thousands of Iranians were demonstratingbehind the tall, ivy-covered walls of the hospital. They shouted slogans in support of the popularprime minister, Mohammad Mosadeq, and his plans for nationalization of oil. Britishimperialism was pumping out the major wealth of our country.My family members were among the modern intelligentsia who supported the progressive primeminister. My father was a young Marxist writer, my uncle, a nationalist poet, and mygrandfathers both were secular intellectuals, knowledgeable in Persian literature. My motherrecalls that in the stormy days of the oil dispute she, my father, and my uncle were among
 
thousands of young activists, who on bicycles or on foot waved the flags of freedom anddemocracy in the streets of Tehran.Two years later, in August 1953, the CIA operated a bloody coup d'etat in Iran under the codename of T P Ajax (a code for a succession of CIA plots to foment coups and destabilizegovernments). As a result, the elected Prime Minister Mosadeq's government (he had 99.9% of the people's vote) was toppled and he was arrested. The Shah, who had fled to Rome, was sentback to Iran to form a new dictatorship under the guidance of the United States.The 1953 coup was bloody and ruthless. Armed soldiers stood in trucks and shot at people;nationalists and Marxists were arrested and tortured in the Shah's prison. Soon, the CIA andMOSAD, the Israeli intelligence service, created a secret police agency by the name of SAVAKfor the Shah's government. This organization became notorious for the persecution, torture andexecution of free thinkers.In the oil dispute with the British, Iran came out a loser. In a nominal nationalization of oil Iranreceived 50 percent of the profits, but the international sales remained in the hands oforeigners
 — 
Britain had 40 percent, US companies had 40 percent and Dutch and Frenchcompanies the rest. The hopes of millions of Iranians to control their own national resource wereburied for another quarter century, when history repeated itself in a different disguise.Twenty-six years after the CIA coup, in February 1979 a revolution happened in Iran that,according to some historians, was comparable to the French and Russian revolutions. Millions of people demanded that the Shah's dictatorship end and a new republic begin. Religious andsecular parties, liberals, nationalists and a variety of Marxist organizations all struggled to reachthe masses. Twenty-six years of suppression and imperialist intervention had led to an eruption.The pressure pot exploded.When the revolution happened I was a graduate student of drama at the University of Iowa,finishing up my last semester. Ironically, my final project was about Bertolt Brecht's last play,
Galileo
. In this play, the Vatican's Inquisition forces Galileo to repent and take back his scientificremark that the earth is a planet and rotates around the sun. By displaying the instrument of torture the monks force the scientist to announce that the Vatican is the center of the universeand the sun rotates around the earth. When I studied and analyzed this play, I was not aware thatwhat I'd chosen for my final project foreshadowed strange incidents that would soon happen inmy country and would change my destiny.In May 1979, excited by the news of the revolution, I skipped the graduation ceremony and fledto Iran. I wanted to be part of this massive uprising and with my fellow country people strugglingto achieve the long delayed freedom and independence. I arrived a few months after the firstrevolutionary riots. The Shah had already fled the country and Iran had an interim government.The political atmosphere was extremely open and Iranians enjoyed immense freedom
 — 
something they had never experienced before. I recall hundreds of demonstrations and ralliesevery day by different political organizations, young men and women passing out flyers, old andyoung carrying on fervent political debates in public places, and an unprecedented solidarity and

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