Book Review: Couchsurfing in Iran

Couchsurfing in Iran • Revealing a Hidden World
Stephan Orth

269 pages • ISBN 978-1-77164-280-4

A modern-day glimpse into the surprising reality of life in Iran.

Iran: a destination that is seldom seen by westerners yet often misunderstood. A country that simultaneously “enchants and enrages” those who visit it. A place where leading a double life has become the norm.

In Couchsurfing in Iran, award-winning author Stephan Orth spends sixty-two days on the road in this mysterious Islamic republic to provide a revealing, behind-the-scenes look at life in one of the world’s most closed societies. Experiencing daily what he calls the “two Irans” that coexist side by side –the “theocracy, where people mourn their martyrs” in mausoleums, and the “hide-and-see-kocracy, where people hold secret parties and seek worldly thrills instead of spiritual bliss”- he learns that Iranians have become experts in navigating around their country’s strict laws.

Getting up close and personal with locals, he covers more than 8,400 kilometers, peering behind closed doors and blank windows to uncover the inner workings of a country where public show and private reality are strikingly opposed.

Stephan Orth is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author. For nine years, he was online travel editor for Der Spiegel, one of Germany’s top news magazines, and he has contributed to National Geographic, the Courier-Mail, and Time Off magazine, among other publications. He lives in Hamburg, Germany.