LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON FICTION
An intimate, deeply reported account of the women who made a shocking decision: to leave their comfortable lives behind and join the Islamic State.
In early 2014, the Islamic State clinched its control of Raqqa in Syria. Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, urged Muslims around the world to come join the caliphate. Having witnessed the brutal oppression of the Assad regime in Syria, and moved to fight for justice, thousands of men and women heeded his call.
At the heart of this story is a cast of unforgettable young women who responded. Emma, from Germany; Sharmeena, from Bethnal Green, London; Nour, from Tunis: these were women — some still in school — from urban families, some with university degrees and bookshelves filled with novels by Jane Austen and Dan Brown; many with cosmopolitan dreams of travel and adventure. But instead of finding a land of justice and piety, they found themselves trapped within the most brutal terrorist regime of the twenty-first century, a world of chaos and upheaval and violence.
What is the line between victim and collaborator? How do we judge these women who both suffered and inflicted intense pain? What role is there for Muslim women in the West? In what is bound to be a modern classic of narrative nonfiction, Moaveni takes us into the school hallways of London, kitchen tables in Germany, the coffee shops in Tunis, the caliphate’s OB/GYN and its ‘Guest House for Young Widows’ — where wives of the fallen waited to be remarried — to demonstrate that the problem called terrorism is a far more complex, political, and deeply relatable one than we generally admit.
‘In concise, visceral vignettes, Moaveni immerses her readers in a milieu saturated with the romantic appeal of violence. The result is a journalistic tour de force that lays bare the inner lives, motivations, and aspirations of her subjects.’ STARRED REVIEW
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‘Eloquent, empathetic, insightful — and essential reading. A book chief international correspondent goes beyond slogans and stereotypes on a journey into a world we know too little about, in an attempt to understand young women whose stories startle and sadden.’
Lyse Doucet, BBC chief international correspondent
‘Azadeh Moaveni offers what is sure to become a modern classic, answering the question of how Muslim women become, as the Western media puts it, “radicalised” ... Moaveni not only provides granular views of particular women as they navigate this sociopolitical minefield but also situates these stories in a broader cultural context, rendering them legible in compelling ways ... I couldn’t put the book down.’
Kelly Blewett, BookPage
Praise for Honeymoon in Tehran:
‘Honeymoon in Tehran is a timely, well-written, and intimate exploration of the soul of Iran. With an eye for detail and a feel for her subject matter, Moaveni has brought to life a country that is at once immensely important to the West and deeply misunderstood. Honest, perceptive, and nuanced, this tale of love and anguish in the Islamic Republic is brimming with poignant political insights. This book will enchant and educate.’
Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future
Praise for Iran Awakening:
‘A moving portrait of a life lived in truth.’
The New York Times Book Review
Praise for Lipstick Jihad:
‘[The] sense of being an outsider in two worlds may have made daily life difficult for Ms. Moaveni, but it also makes her a wonderfully acute observer, someone keenly attuned not only to the differences between American and Iranian cultures, but also to the ironies and contradictions of life today in Tehran.’
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times