Saturday, April 09, 2016

Septembers of Shiraz, Dalia Sofer

 Set in Tehran after the Pahlavi's were toppled by the people's revolution, we are introduced to Issac Amin. He is a non-practicing Jewish jeweler. He comes from humble beginnings; his hard work and passion for jem had brought him riches and fame. On a non-descriptive day he is arrested by the revolutionary guard, and taken to jail in blind folds. In the pages that follow we are told the reactions, and stories of those who are impacted by Isaac's arrest. His wife who tries her best to hold the fort, keep matters in order and her daughter safe, but finds herself ill prepared for both and leans on the housekeeper on many occasions. His daughter who given her young age and due to her mother's shortcomings trys to take matters of rescuing her father and many others in her own hand by stealing documents from her friend's house, whose father works for the revolutionary guard. His housekeeper, and her son; who have been treated and paid fairly over the years, but still question and despise the large income gap between themselves and the Amin family. Isaac's parents, brother and sister who are more concerned with their affairs than Isaac's disappearance. And Issac's son who is studying to become an architect in New York, and seems only concerned about his change in status from a rich to a poor boy who now has to earn his living and his place in society. All this is happening while Issac is given the opportunity to think his life through and put it in perspective in jail. His cell mates and people he comes in contact with during the daily recess are nothing like him. They are communists, or Islamic socialists who were amongst the masses shouting "Down with Shah" not too long ago, but since their ideology differs from the winners are put in jail and made scared of making any claim to the government.
I neither liked the story nor the writing. The story lacked substance. It was washed down to appeal and end quickly. The characters were sloppy. The only thing I sort of liked was the conversations, and events of the jail. The interrogation sessions were descriptive enough to make my hair stand on end. The conversations were interesting because we had pro- & anti- Shah in the same place trying to make sense of it all, and to have them see eye to eye on some matters was a job well done.
The writing was simple, and switched to Farsi in parts of dialogues; this switch made the culture of the characters ambiguous.

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