Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by SHIRA RICHMAN & r & The Septembers of Shiraz


by Dalia Sofer





& lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hen he became the ruler of Iran in 1979 -- and before he could create an Islamic Republic -- Ruhollah Khomeini first needed to eradicate his opposition. He created the Revolutionary Guard to capture and question those of most obvious concern -- communists, non-Muslims and those who thrived in the previous economic system.





In Dalia Sofer's fictional treatment of Khomeini's revolution, Isaac is a jeweler and non-religious Jew. He owns a beautiful house filled with fine rugs, silver, antiques and art. He drives a Jaguar, travels the world, vacations at his beach house. But when he is suspected of being a Zionist spy, Isaac is imprisoned, interrogated and tortured.





Sofer tells the story of Isaac and his family through a detailed third-person account that shifts its point of view among Isaac, his wife Farnaz, his daughter Shirin, and his son Parviz. Although Farnaz seems like the least likable of the main characters, the greatest strength of The Septembers of Shiraz lies in the complex interactions between her and her housekeeper, Habibeh. Farnaz may be "arrogant","conceited" and "belittling" in the housekeeper's view, but Sofer doesn't characterize Farnaz in such a simplistic way. Habibeh's honesty provokes candor in Farnaz, and the scenes between the two women are tense, ruthless, and representative of the challenges faced by the country they're trying to share.





Sofer is at her weakest, however, in the portions about the son who is studying architecture in New York. In contrast to the multidimensionality of the other characters, the portrayal of Parviz remains superficial. While we receive clues that he feels lonely and isolated, it's difficult to see past his persistent self-absorption. His pseudo-romance with the daughter of his Hassidic landlord and eventual boss offers only a passing distraction for him and for us. After speeding through the Parviz chapters, however, we're back with Isaac in his prison cell, where the moaning of prisoners and the thud of bodies on concrete is disturbing enough -- though not as startling as the experiences of Shirin, Isaac's 9-year-old daughter. Her empathy entangles her in Khomeini's revolution in a way that nearly destroys her entire family.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Untouchable
  • Untouchable

    New claims of Spokane sidestepping civil service rules; Mobius finds a temporary home
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • Friends with Benefits
  • Friends with Benefits

    Is a special deal with a private club helping the city's public golf courses?
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • A New Voice
  • A New Voice

    The Black Lens, continues Spokane's long tradition of African-American publications
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Shira Richman

  • Book Review

    by Annie Dillard & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & S & lt;/span & ome prefer writing in which they can lose track of real life and immerse themselves in the world of the book. This is not what will happen while reading Annie Dillard's work.
    • Aug 15, 2007
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Say 'No' to Fear

    Why Spokane ought to embrace its roots as an immigrant-friendly place
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • Mothers and Leaders

    History often overlooks the women who powered the politics of the civil rights movement
    • Jan 7, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation