In 2011, with U.S.–Iran relations at a thirty-year low, Iranian-American writer Hooman Majd decided to take his blonde, blue-eyed Midwestern wife Karri and his infant son Khash from their Brooklyn neighborhood to spend a year in the land of his birth. “The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay” traces their domestic adventures and tracks the political drama of a terrible year for Iran's government. The Green Movement had been crushed, but the regime was on edge, anxious lest democratic protests resurge. International sanctions were dragging down the economy while talk of war with the West grew. Hooman Majd was there for all of it.
It was to be a year of discovery for Majd, too, who had only lived in Iran as a child. “The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay” is an account of life under an authoritarian regime that offers insight into a country and its people, as well as a personal story of exile and a search for the meaning of home. Hooman Majd was born in Tehran in 1957 and educated in the West. He has written about Iran for GQ, the New York Times, The New Yorker, and the New York Observer, and was executive vice president at Island Records and head of film and music at Palm Pictures. A contributing editor at Interview magazine, he lives in New York City. Hooman Majd’s previous books include “The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran” and “The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge.” We’ll revisit a conversation from January on Wednesday’s AU.