I absolutely did not mean to start my Islamic reading project until the autumn but The Septembers of the Shiraz by Dalia Sofer has changed all that. As I read I realised it made the perfect fictional starting point and it would be silly not to carry on, however The Bookerthon likely to invade any day now.
I opened The Septembers of Shiraz one afternoon and that was me sucked in and trapped, relentlessly turning the pages and ignoring the world. I've read a high proportion of books lately that have earned 5* for reasons various and here's yet another.This one just flows along to give riveting total immersion reading and one I had to sit up late to finish or I wasn't going to be able to sleep.
Memorable characters in an unusual situation, a wealthy and privileged non-orthodox Jewish family in Iran at the time of the revolution.As the Shah is deposed so Isaac Amin's life and its trappings start to unravel becoming a hindrance that places him firmly in the wealthy capitalist and therefore completely wrong camp.
Blurb-writers are exactly right, the scope is ambitious.
Religion, political turmoil, imprisonment, betrayal stalk every page but it is all handled with great maturity by the young (well looks a lot younger than me from the picture) Dalia Sofer and this is a first novel too.
So much of the book heart-wrenchingly good as Isaac and Farnaz and daughter Shirin learn so much and more about each other and their lives through their ordeal.Descent from a life of luxury to abject poverty, danger and fear when overnight the most trusted of friends become the enemy, is all covered effortlessly.
The measure of a great read for me when nothing distracts me from the word on the page.
Nothing that jarred and jolted me out of that reading reverie you hit sometimes with a really good book.
A fine balance of characters, place and plot and an underlying sense of tension that gave me a good, albeit fictional, insight into the events of the time.
More history that I have only a hazy and blurred recollection of from my rather limited 1979 Devon vantage point; we were busy buying our first house and wondering how on earth we could afford to pay £12,000 for it, or rather persuade the Halifax Building Society to pay for it on our behalf.
Could just about get a decent car for that now.
A while ago I started and stopped reading Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis (or as Zadie calls it in the blurb an "excellent comic book") because it was out of context with everything else at the time and I knew it was a book that needed to be read with a sense of purpose and at the right time, which must be now with Nawal El Saadawi to follow.