Posts Tagged With: Iran

My Father’s Notebook by Khaled Abdolah

This book is translated by: Susan Massotty

Waterstones Synopsis:

On a holy mountain in the depths of Persia, there is a cave with a mysterious cuneiform carving deep inside it. Aga Akbar, a deaf-mute boy from the mountain, develops his own private script from these symbols and writes passionately of his life, his family and his efforts to make sense of the changes the twentieth century brings to his country. Exiled in Holland a generation later, Akbar’s son, Ishmael, struggles to decipher the notebook, reflecting how his own political activities have forced him to flee his country and abandon his family. As he gets closer to the heart of his father’s story, he unravels the intricate tale of how the silent world of a village carpet-mender was forced to give way to one where the increasingly hostile environment of modern Iran has brought the family both love and sacrifice.

I picked up this book as it not what I would usually read. This was a good book and I am glad I chose it. The majority of the book is narrated by Ishmael, who is trying to understand his father’s notebook. But his dad is a deaf mute who is also illiterate. His story is told as a series of pictures and hard to decipher scribbles. Ishmael also retells memories of his life in Iran, where life is changing quickly – both politically and economically.

This was an interesting read. It enabled me to learn more about Iran in the last century and also about life with a deaf mute. This book was a bit disjointed and I did sometimes wonder where we were in the recollections. That said, learning about life in this time was wonderful and reading about Iran’s countryside and traditions was very enlightening.

I liked the characters and the honesty Ishmael showed as he retold his father’s life stories. His involvement in politics and how he felt about the current situation was interesting. I felt sorry for Akbar, but also admired how he managed to work, gain respect and provide for his family.

This was an enlightening read, which reminded me a bit of A Thousand Splendid Suns. I thought it was worth reading.


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The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

Set in seventeenth-century Iran, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS is the powerful and haunting story of a young girl’s journey from innocence to adulthood. The novel begins in the 1620s in a remote village where the narrator (whose name, in the Iranian storytelling tradition, we are never to know) lives with her mother and rug-maker father. On the sudden death of her father our heroine and her mother fall upon hard times and are forced to travel to the bustling, beautiful, exotic city of Isfahan where relatives take them in.

Everything is new: the grudging charity of her aunt, the encouragement of her uncle, one of the finest carpet-makers in the world, who begins to teach her his craft, the treacherous friendship of the daughter of rich neighbours. And there’s an adventure ahead which will introduce her to the sensual side of life as well as to the cruelty of betrayal and rejection before she finds her way to contentment and possibly, even, to happiness, in a world full of contrasts and dangers.

I had no idea what to expect from this, and I discovered a beautifully written, insightful book. It’s set in pre-modern Iran, in a time when art was encouraged, and carpet making was an important skill. In a world where men and women had their own place, one girl finds the courage to make her own decisions.. although these are often with disastrous results.

The descriptions of the village and the city pull you into the story, and the characters keep you there. The setting may be unusual, but the themes are universal.. the ups and downs of friendship, the love of family, the various relationships between man and woman.

The narrator is unnamed, which is the author’s way of acknowledging anonymous artists from the time. However, this in no way distracts from the story, and in fact, it was something I hadn’t even realised until I read other reviews.

Despite the journeys that she takes, and the hardships she endures, there is a gentleness running through this book. The author was born in Iran, and her book is well researched.

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