Published 9:56 AM EST Feb 11, 2019
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians on Monday celebrated the 40th anniversary of the founding of their Islamic Republic – and the collapse of the U.S.-backed government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – as former First Lady, Michelle Obama notched an unlikely Iran-related milestone of her own: Her memoir has become a bestseller there.
Obama’s "Becoming," her book about growing up in Chicago and later, her experiences in the White House, has been reprinted 17 times within less than a month, according to Mehrandish Publications, the book's Persian-language publisher.
Notification of the book's runaway success in Iran was first reported by the Tehran Times, an English-language newspaper. The publisher did not reveal how many copies "Becoming" has sold in Iran. Penguin Random House, the book's English-language publisher, says "Becoming" is the best-selling hardcover book of 2018, having sold more than 2 million copies in North America in its first 15 days. It is also the No. 1 seller in Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Greece. The book has been translated into 31 languages.
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The Tehran Times did not elaborate on what it is exactly about Obama's memoir that appears to be connecting with its Iranian audience. The book has been praised internationally, including by The Washington Post, for "impressive balance in telling the truth of her challenges while repeatedly acknowledging her lucky life."
Across Iran on Monday people took to the streets to commemorate Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1979 return from exile to become the nation's Supreme Leader.
The anniversary comes as tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Washington reimposed economic sanctions on Iran in November. Iran hawks in his administration will take part in a Middle East-related conference in Poland this week.
Iran is expected to feature heavily.
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As is customary at anti-U.S. rallies in Iran, large crowds waved Iranian flags and chanted "Death to America." They also burned U.S. and Israeli flags.
"The presence of people in this celebration means that plots by the enemies … have been defused," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Rouhani said in speech from a podium in central Iran. "They will not achieve their ill-omened aims," he said, referring to the sanctions that Iran believes are intended to "bring down" its government.
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