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144 œ JOURNAL OF MIDDLE EAST WOMEN'S STUDIES Unfortunately, as Kanaaneh herself notes, her methodological choices carry some disadvantages as well. Despite her polyvocal style, her reliance primarily on her family's social network raises some doubt regarding generalizations to Palestinian society at large. However, the heterogeneity ofopinions Kanaaneh demonstrates among her informants helps to mitigate the implications of her limited circle of informants. In addition, the polyvocality ofthe ethnography sometimes leads individual strands ofnarrative to become tangled, and both author and reader risk taking informants' statements out of context. It is sometimes difficult to track the life paths of all these personalities to whom we have been introduced. Thus, we lack the data, for instance, to determine where an informant lies on the city-village-Bedouin hierarchy ofmodernity, which Kanaaneh would insist is crucial in understanding statements about reproduction . A final area ofconcern is Kanaaneh's use ofthe term "modern " without proper definition. Though she describes its manifestations within each of the five fields of meaning, she never defines its meaning within her text as an overarching concept. Nonetheless, this is an excellent ethnography that will be useful to a wide variety of students and scholars. Kanaaneh's nuanced discussion ofwomen's efforts, as gendered individuals, to negotiate with state power and modernist narratives, will be of interest to feminist scholars and researchers in gender studies. Her analysis ofintersections among nationalism , reproductive choices, state, economic, and medical policies, and familial gender relations is innovative and insightful, and it will be useful for scholars ofmedical anthropology and area studies in the Middle East, as well as those interested particularly in comparative nationalisms, modernity, and subaltern studies. Reading Lolita in Tehran Azar Nafisi. New York: Random House, 2003. $23.95 cloth. Maryam El Shall, University of Florida Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran is a journey back in time. A memoir told through the stories of Austen, James, Nabokov, and Fitzgerald, we begin at the end and move slowly backward via four sections titled BOOK REVIEWS«** 145 "Lolita," "Gatsby," "James," and "Austen." In each, Nafisi weaves in and out oftime, recalling her first readings oíLolita or Gatsby when she was a young scholar and matching them against the fresh readings of her young students. She unites fiction with reality, creating the overall impression in the reader oflooking at a multitextured, multicolored tapestry ofdreams lost and won and hopes dashed and fulfilled. The characters we meet in Nafisi's memoir are, as one suspects Nafisi herself is, real-life embodiments ofthe literary canon's most beloved characters. In the first chapter ofthe memoir, Nafisi paints a picture of them from one of the last photographs she took in Iran before leaving. Like the Veladquez portrait of the artist painting a portrait, we can see Nafisi writing about her last moments in Tehran with the photograph sitting in front ofher. "In the first [photo] there are seven women, standing against a white wall. They are, according to the law ofthe land, dressed in black robes and head scarves, covered except for the oval oftheir faces and their hands" (4). These women are Yasi, the youngest ofthe group; Azin, the most "outrageous and outspoken" (5); Mitra, the calmest; Mashid, the one who was like porcelain; Manna, the poet; and Sanaz, the one caught between two worlds. Just as we prepare ourselves for the stories of these young women and overlook that we have been introduced to only six of them, Nafisi interrupts the narrative and recedes from that moment captured in the photograph to tell us of the one who is not there: Nassrin. "She did not make it to the end," Nafisi recalls, but somehow Nassrin's presence is palpable to the reader. "My tale would be incomplete without those who could not or did not remain with us," Nafisi insists (5). "Their absences persist, like an acute pain that seems to have no physical source. This is Tehran for me," Nafisi laments—the absences were more real than the presences (5). One ofthe major themes in ReadingLolita is time. Nafisi, as a Western -educated woman, identifies in her readings of stories about time— like Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby—a...


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