Review by Rea Keech
In 1974, twenty-five-year-old linguist Margaret, with her husband of six months, went to Iran’s border town of Rezaiyeh to research the Kermanji dialect of Kurdish. There were Kurds in the town, but it was difficult for the young American woman to get to know any. The town was sheltering Kurdish refugees from Iraq, but she was not welcome in the camp, at least at first. This is the story of her determined effort to befriend Kurdish women and men. She describes in charming detail her embarrassments before learning their customs, which she explains without judgment, even practices like isolating women in harams and taking on multiple wives. Eventually, she is gratified to find that she has true friends among the Kurds.
Margaret left Iran in 1975 and returned in 1978. The first edition of her captivating book was published just after Iran’s Islamic revolution. This 2020 edition adds a helpful historical introduction and comments on the recent plight of the Kurds.