Last Scene Underground draws the reader’s attention to the devastating repercussions of the post-1979 revolutionary period for secular people and the upper-middle classes in Iran; the traumatic aftereffects of the 1980–88 Iran-Iraq War; and the 1999 and 2009 student uprisings and their violent quashing by the government. In addition to the theme of postrevolutionary trauma, Varzi explores the lack of artistic freedom and freedom of expression in contemporary Iranian society. Last Scene Underground considers the risks taken by writers, playwrights, directors, and actors as they practice their art in a heavily censored environment where government agents scrutinize every performance and shut most of them down.

The story begins with an incident that effectively conveys the atmosphere of fear and oppression in which the protagonists negotiate their everyday lives. Leili, a student at the University of Tehran, waits anxiously...

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