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In February 2011, Hooman Majd disembarked at the Tehran airport, a place he had passed through many times to visit family or accompany a news crew. But this time he had his wife, Karri; his infant son, Khash; and an oversize stroller in tow—and plans to stay for a year. Few American journalists gain entry to Iran; for Majd, the son of a diplomat under the shah and the grandson of an ayatollah, it would be the first time he had lived in his homeland since childhood. In The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay, he recounts both his family’s domestic adventures and a tumultuous year in Iranian politics. The result is an unforgettable portrait of an elusive country whose government, in the more than thirty years since its Islamic revolution, has been the United States’ most intractable nemesis.
"Majd is a keen and intelligent observer of political life in Iran, and his memoir resonates with nostalgia for the country of his birth." —The New York Times Book Review
"A vibrant, witty account." —The Boston Globe
"Not just a book about Iran—it’s a personal story that will speak to any readers who have ever been disassociated from home . . . struggled to navigate a new culture . . . or attempted to come to terms with their own foreignness. . . . Reveals an Iran far more nuanced, sophisticated and affluent than most Western readers might imagine. . . . The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay completes a trilogy that illuminates the politics, society, and culture of modern Iran through the eyes of the decidedly hip, well-connected Majd." —The Christian Science Monitor
"No one takes you inside Iran like Hooman Majd, whose keen observations and rich writing tell the story of an illuminating, delightful, and at times, horrifying journey." —Ann Curry
"A dark story, rivetingly told. . . . [Majd’s] strongest and most nuanced writing on the country. . . . As a gifted writer and the grandson of an ayatollah, Majd is well-placed to probe the role of cultural pride in Iranian diplomacy and the Shia exceptionalism that makes Iran both a fundamentalist state and a less tedious place to be during Ramadan than Dubai. He is especially strong on political culture and the art of the calculated sulk. . . . Majd writes affectingly throughout the book of his passion for Iran." —Financial Times
"[Majd] has crafted a memorable account of his attempt to move back to the land of his birth with his American wife and their baby son. With a keen eye for the telling detail and a refreshingly mordant wit, Majd offers glimpses of life inside the Islamic Republic in all of its unresolved contradictions." —Jon Lee Anderson
"The result is on one level a breezy, down-to-earth account of everyday domestic life in the polluted, congested, tense and utterly fascinating megapolis that is modern Tehran. But having deployed himself and his family as a clever framing device, Majd goes on to build a sympathetic and nuanced picture of a complex society too often misinterpreted by the outside world. . . . An insightful study of how politics and religion intersect with daily life in the Middle East’s oldest and most culturally rich state." —The Telegraph (UK)
"There are some nice pen portraits of the partygoers, taxi-drivers and bored babysitters who help make Tehran’s streets come to life. The Iranian attitude to children—far more indulgent and demonstrative than in Europe or America—is beautifully captured. . . . Majd’s relationship with his Iranian past is the real subject. He writes from the point of view of someone whose ‘home’ is an unfamiliar place. Whose clerical ancestors are about as far from New York socialites as you could possibly get." —The Guardian
"Written in Majd’s wry, laconic style, in which gentle comical lampooning combines with the relaying of facts. . . . The political insights are fascinating. . . . An insightful, appealing read." —The Independent (UK)
"Bold and discerning. . . . Hooman Majd’s new book on Iran, The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay, is his best yet." —The Spectator (UK)
"Majd’s account is useful and elucidating. . . . [He offers] insightful glimpses of the complex Iranian character." —Publishers Weekly