Political theater in Iran and the challenges of writing Last Scene Underground, which blends both ethnography and fiction, are the topics of the latest episode of “Humanities Headlines,” produced by the UCI School of Humanities. The discussion between Georges Van Den Abbeele, humanities dean, and Roxanne Varzi, anthropology professor and affiliated faculty in the Department of Film & Media Studies, can be viewed online.

About Last Scence Underground: An Ethnographic Novel of Iran
Leili could not have imagined that arriving late to Islamic morals class would change the course of her life. But her arrival catches the eye of a young man, and a chance meeting soon draws Leili into a new circle of friends and artists. Gathering in the cafes of Tehran, these young college students come together to create an underground play that will wake up their generation. They play with fire, literally and figuratively, igniting a drama both personal and political to perform their play—just once.

From the wealthy suburbs and chic coffee shops of Tehran to subterranean spaces teeming with drugs and prostitution to spiritual lodges and saints' tombs in the mountains high above the city, Last Scene Underground presents an Iran rarely seen. Young Tehranis navigate their way through politics, art, and the meaning of home and in the process learn hard lessons about censorship, creativity, and love. Their dangerous discoveries ultimately lead to finding themselves.

Written in the hopeful wake of Iran's Green Movement and against the long shadow of the Iran-Iraq war, this unique novel deepens our understanding of an elusive country that is full of misunderstood contradictions and wonder.

"Literary romance and ethnography are joined in perfect dialogue in Last Scene Underground. Roxanne Varzi has written a rare, powerful book that is both a whirlwind story of how it feels to be young and idealistic during the time of the Green Movement, and a pointed reckoning with the state of censorship in Iran today."—Nahid Rachlin, author of Persian Girls.

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