BOOKS

An Iranian witch-hunt

OUT OF IRAN: A WOMAN’S ESCAPE FROM THE AYATOLLAHS By Sousan Azadi, with Angela Ferrante

CY JAMISON September 14 1987
BOOKS

An Iranian witch-hunt

OUT OF IRAN: A WOMAN’S ESCAPE FROM THE AYATOLLAHS By Sousan Azadi, with Angela Ferrante

CY JAMISON September 14 1987

An Iranian witch-hunt

BOOKS

OUT OF IRAN: A WOMAN’S ESCAPE FROM THE AYATOLLAHS By Sousan Azadi, with Angela Ferrante

(Irwin, 327 pages, $21.95)

Featuringoil-rich princes, amorous mullahs and whipping beds, Out of Iran: A Woman ’s Escape from the Ayatollahs reads like a modern-day equivalent of the Thousand and One Nights. But while the mythical Scheherezade narrated the Nights stories to prevent her husband from executing her, Sousan Azadi provides a real-life account of her struggle for emancipation—and survival—in male-dominated Moslem society. Her remarkable story, written with Maclean's Assistant Managing Editor Angela Ferrante, lacks the spellbinding charm of Nights. Still, it provides a unique perspective on the Islamic revolution of the late 1970s.

The daughter of a prominent family, Azadi attended high school in the United States. But she returned to Iran at 18 and married Bijan Amini, a wealthy 39-year-old playboy. She and her husband enjoyed a lavish social life among Tehran’s elite, but soon Azadi realized that her husband wanted only a veneer of Westernization: she could rarely leave the house unaccompanied, and he controlled the wealth. After she was widowed at 22, her infant son, Farhad, inherited property worth millions of dollars. But Azadi’s in-laws waged a ferocious battle for the boy and his inheritance.

Khomeini’s rise to power in 1979— and his witch-hunt for Westernized taghouti, or followers of Satanbrought the family conflict to a head. Azadi’s in-laws were instrumental in getting the Komiteh, Khomeini’s police force, to issue a warrant for her arrest. With the help of smugglers and Kurdish tribesman, she and her son escaped on horseback to Turkey. After a stop in Paris, Azadi arrived in Toronto in 1983, where she designs and sells jewelry.

Azadi’s tale occasionally strains credibility. And the writers’ prose sometimes turns to dross. When dialogue is presented, absurdity is never far away: “You should have married a nice little Iranian girl who wants to stay home and make jams for you,” Azadi says at one point. Lacking Scheherezade’s deft touch, the authors strain too hard to keep the reader entranced.

CY JAMISON