Crooked Alleys

Deliverance and Despair in Iran

June 2021 9781787384668 248pp
Available as an eBook


By 2013, Iranians were suffocating, as though the streets had become narrower, the buildings taller, the dirty air thicker. In electing Hassan Rouhani, they chose a new, reformist leader, burying the days when a Holocaust-denying president had pushed Iran to the edge of economic collapse and conflict. But the nation hasn’t quite broken free.

Iranians are trying to move on, yet the Islamic Republic remains a prisoner of the past, plagued by US sanctions, a broken economy and the threat of war. After 2016, Donald Trumps presidency derailed the future of millions of people. How have Iranians met these challenges? What future do they imagine now? Has Iran missed its best chance for real change?

Crooked Alleys explores Iran during some of its darkest days, but also its most hopeful.


‘[Crooked Alleys] is a mine of little-reported information about Iranian society.’ — Labour Hub

‘As one of only a handful of correspondents based in Iran, Soraya Lennie offers a unique view of that country. A vivid portrait of Iranians, their hopes and struggles, at a turning point in Iran’s long history. Indispensable reading.’ — Jason Rezaian, Opinions Writer, The Washington Post, and author of Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison

‘In this powerful and insightful narrative, Lennie uses the voices of Iranians themselves—articulate, beautiful and very often damning—to chart the modern unravelling of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Based on superb on-the-ground reporting, Crooked Alleys captures how Iranians cope, caught between US sanctions and the threat of war, and their own leaders’ vicious infighting, corruption and negligence.’ — Scott Peterson, author of Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran—A Journey Behind the Headlines     

‘Lennie’s succinct, deft and elegant prose illustrates, through the personal stories of ordinary Iranians, a resilient society under pressure from within and without. A much-needed glimpse into the dynamics of the Rouhani administration and the lives of Iranians impacted by sanctions.’ — Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ and The Ayatollahs’ Democracy

‘This book is at its roaring best when it tells the tales of those Iranians who have been hit the hardest by the devastating sanctions regime and interventions pursued by successive US governments. A riveting and touching reading experience.’ — Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, author of What is Iran?



Soraya Lennie is an Australian-Iranian journalist and analyst. Based in the Middle East, including Iran, since 2010, she has covered politics, war and international crisis. She holds an MA in International Diplomacy (MENA) from SOAS University of London and a diploma in Persian from the University of Tehran.

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