In this poignant, eye-opening and emotionally vivid novel, Mahbod Seraji lays bare the beauty and brutality of the centuries-old Persian culture, while reaffirming the human experiences we all share. Read more...
In this poignant, eye-opening and emotionally vivid novel, Mahbod Seraji lays bare the beauty and brutality of the centuries-old Persian culture, while reaffirming the human experiences we all share.
In a middle-class neighborhood of Iran's sprawling capital city, 17-year-old Pasha Shahed spends the summer of 1973 on his rooftop with his best friend Ahmed, joking around one minute and asking burning questions about life the next. He also hides a secret love for his beautiful neighbor Zari, who has been betrothed since birth to another man. But the bliss of Pasha and Zari's stolen time together is shattered when Pasha unwittingly acts as a beacon for the Shah's secret police. The violent consequences awaken him to the reality of living under a powerful despot, and lead Zari to make a shocking choice...
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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 31.
- Review Date: 2009-03-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Set in 1970s Iran during the shah's regime, this earnest, semiautobiographical debut novel is told from the perspective of bookish 17-year-old Pasha Shahed, who, along with his best friend Ahmed, plays soccer, goofs off and thinks about girls. But Pasha pines for one girl in particular—his neighbor Zari, betrothed since birth to Pasha's mentor, the neighborhood radical, Ramin Sobhi, whom everyone calls Doctor. Over a summer Ahmed orchestrates daily meetups with his own beloved, Faheemeh, and includes Pasha and Zari. Despite knowing he shouldn't, Pasha falls in love with Zari. The idyllic summer comes to an end when Doctor is abducted and killed by SAVAK, the not-so-secret police. The effects of Doctor's death on Pasha and Zari are traumatic and lead each to acts of transgression with tragic results. The prose has the simplicity of a nonnative English speaker, which could be seen as clichéd (“treasure of love,” “dark winter of my life”) or charmingly romantic. Seraji captures the thoughts and emotions of a young boy and creates a moving portrait of the history and customs of the Persians and life in Iran during this period. (May)