We Are Iran

Nasrin Alavi

Published: 8 June 2006
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 384 pages
ISBN: 9781846270031

A seamlessly edited multi-voiced portrait of contemporary Iran, using that nation's weblogs as its primary source.


We Are Iran is a seamlessly edited multi-voiced portrait of contemporary Iran, translated from Farsi, using that nation's weblogs as its primary source. Iran has more web diarists than most countries, and in cyberspace many Iranians find a freedom to express opinions that is not available to them in print. Theirs is not the Iran of bearded ayatollahs and thuggish militias, but a country that has educated itself to the point where it finds the Islamist fundamentalists antiquated and laughable, where adult literacy (and computer literacy) is higher than in many European states, and where 70 per cent of the population is under thirty and keen to usher in a new Iran. Their voices - infused with Persian lyricism - are refreshing, utterly at odds with the grim vision of the country peddled by Western governments. They talk of their conflicts with the law, the condition of women, of repression and its subversion, the police and media, of singing and dancing, of snatched romance and nostalgia for lost heroes. Reading We Are Iran, you have the sense that, for more reasons than are obvious, the worst thing that could possibly happen to Iran now would be a US attack.

About the author

Image of Nasrin Alavi

Nasreen Alavi is a British Iranian who gave up a career in the City of London to work for an NGO in Tehran. This is her first book. More about the author


‘Alavi mines the rich seam of surreptitious scribbling in modern Iran to produce a powerful picture of popular feeling there.’ Robbie Hudson



‘Alavi's compelling social and political history of her country reveals the paradoxes of the modern Islamic republic.’

‘An eye-opening patchwork of Iranian voices ... It would be hard to read We Are Iran without sensing you had glimpsed the affairs of ordinary people living in a cruelly restrictive regime’ Rosemary Goring

‘An important contribution.’ Philippe Sands

‘As Nasrin Alavi demonstrates in her new book We Are Iran, these diary sites cover the gamut: angry, sad, humorous and brave.’ Ben Macintyre

‘Every now and again a book comes along that first challenges any preconceived notions you may have about a particular subject, and then turns them completely on their head. We Are Iran is just such a book’

‘In despotic countries, bloggers have become the new enemy and the new martyrs. One of the most startling and informative books recently published is We Are Iran, the translated voices of witty, fierce, optimistic young Iranian web diarists.’ Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

‘Incredibly heartening’ Ian Hislop, BBC R4

‘Nasrin Alavi's We Are Iran is a fascinating portrait of a young generation trying to reconcile its demand for individual rights with the official ideology of political Islam.’ Pankaj Mishra

‘The blogs are admirably articulate, brave, heartfelt, funny and sad’

‘This beautifully organised book has you learning the long history of Iran almost by sleight of hand. Evocative and weirdly gripping, it makes you feel more like an eavesdropper than a reader.’ Rachel Cooke

‘This captivating study of contemporary Iran is illustrated by a wide range of extracts from the weblogs rapidly being constructed by its citizens. ...Alavi uses the range of tones and feeling that pour through the electronic ether to enliven this excellent "people's history" of the country. Organised around themes such as gender, religion and war, she focuses in particular on the younger "rebellious generation" (70% of the population are under 30). At the same time, the book is historically sharp, highlighting how the US-UK coup that crushed the democratically elected government of the 1950s sowed the seeds of militant Islamic anti-Americanism as well as a wider "nation of steadfast revolutionaries". An engaging and inventive book that deserves a wide audience.’

‘This could very well be the nearest thing to a nation writing its own history’

‘This is not the first example of a book made out of blogs ... It does, I think, count as the finest so far: an eye-opening collage of extracts from the (roughly) 64,000 Farsi-language bloggers now at work in Iran, threaded by Alavi's illuminating analysis’ Boyd Tonkin

‘You won't get a better glimpse of the obsessions and frustrations that exist behind the imposed cliche of the black chador; ideas and passions that thrive despite the rule of what Alavi calls the "mutant" Islamists’ Christopher Dickey

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