Magazine article The New Yorker

Growing Up Middle Eastern

Magazine article The New Yorker

Growing Up Middle Eastern

Article excerpt

The Turkish novelist and translator Guneli Gun grew up on an Aegean island once used to quarantine pilgrims returning from Mecca. In REMEMBERING CHILDHOOD IN THE MIDDLE EAST: MEMOIRS FROM A CENTURY OF CHANGE (Texas), an anthology edited by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, Gun recalls her anger at her parents' refusal to love Quarantine Island. Her mother missed cosmopolitan social life; her father, a doctor, ridiculed his staff and railed about " 'the agony of the East,' by which he meant the scientific backwardness he believed Islam had 'brought upon' us."

Amid the jarring disruptions of life in Tehran during the nineteen-eighties, Marjane Satrapi could at least confide in her parents. Her comic-book memoir, PERSEPOLIS: THE STORY OF A CHILDHOOD (Pantheon), describes her pain at seeing her country descend into fundamentalism and violence. Satrapi was patriotic; she was relieved to see her father cheer when the BBC confirmed that Iranian bombers had hit Baghdad. …

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