Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Septembers of Shiraz - Dalia Sofer

The Septembers of ShirazThe Septembers of Shiraz actually has nothing to do with Septembers in Shiraz, so don't pick it up if you're hoping Shiraz will be a prominent feature.  It's not.  In fact, the book is split pretty much entirely between Tehran in the early 1980s and New York City at the same time.  The title comes from one little passage of reflection at the very end, and while it does have a ring to it and some lovely alliteration, it's not exactly relevant to the plot.  The plot revolves around Isaac Amin, a gem dealer who is arrested for mysterious reasons, and his family as they go through the ordeal of his imprisonment while trying to keep up appearances.  While Isaac struggles with life in prison, never knowing if each night will be his last, his wife and daughter face harassment from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard at their home.  Farnaz, Isaac's wife, tries to keep life moving on, and his daughter Shirin steals files from the house of one of her friends in the hope that the files' subjects will escape her father's fate.  Meanwhile, Isaac's son Parviz attends university in New York City and only has spotty communication with his family, and lives an impoverished life when they are not able to send money, at the same time becoming involved in the lives of the Mendelsons, a family of Hasidic Jews from whom he rents his living space.

It took me a while to get into this book, mainly because not much was happening.  Sofer's writing style just didn't grab me and pull me in, and after Isaac's arrest--which happens almost immediately--there's a lot of day-to-day stuff going on before the next "big thing" come along.  It ended at a sort of strange place, and overall felt rather anti-climatic.  That said, I did get into the book about halfway through and enjoyed it, though it's probably not one that I'll grab for the next time I want to read something about the Middle East.  It was good, but not really remarkable; that's pretty much all there is to it.  It did, however, leave me wanting a Turkish-style tea set, for some strange reason.

3 stars out of 5.

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