x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Words Not Swords: Iran's female writers are still suffering

Despite being an academic, Farzaneh Milani brings alive the constraints still facing Iranian writers with her passion as a writer and feminist.

Words Not Swords by Farzaneh Milani. Syracuse University Press
Words Not Swords by Farzaneh Milani. Syracuse University Press

In this engaging and interesting follow-up to Veils and Words, Farzaneh Milani's previous best-selling exposition of women and literature in Iran, she further elaborates on the constraints placed on the freedom of women writers in her native country.

While Milani's credentials as an academic shine through on almost every page, it is her passion as a writer and feminist that gives Words Not Swords the lustre of a labour of love.

The history of the veil and gender segregation are both explored with something of an insider's view of local custom and myth, covering both Iran's rich tradition of storytelling and its political uprisings. Three further sections are devoted to writers (including Simin Behbahani) from Milani's native land. Each of these offers a striking tribute to the battles these writers waged against the suppression of women in male-dominated forums.

Rather than ignore the tragedies which befell them, Milani raises further questions related to their crippled mobility. Despite the harshness of these particular cases, she engages a hopeful tone throughout when considering the future of Iran's authors.