- Fizzy Thoughts: The Septembers of Shiraz

The Septembers of Shiraz

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Septembers of Shiraz
Dalia Sofer
August 2007
338 pages

This book is so beautifully written. Filled with vivid descriptions, it was both a pleasure to read and almost too painful to read at the same time.

The Septembers of Shiraz
tells the story of the Amin family in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. Father Isaac is a gem dealer, and his success has allowed his family to live in luxury. However, that luxury is now a dangerous thing, and Isaac is soon arrested and imprisoned. Mother Farnaz has become accustomed to the luxuries her husband provides. Farnaz and Isaac have grown distant, and his arrest forces her into uncomfortable situations with prison guards, the household employees, the employees of Isaac's business and his family. Their son, Parviz, is a student in New York, and therefore removed from the drama and danger back home. However, he struggles with his sudden independence (he is no longer receiving the money he needs for rent) and with the fact that he will never be able to return home. Daughter Shirin also faces danger as she deals with her father's absence and becomes friends with a classmate whose father is a member of the Revolutionary Guards.

The book alternates between the four members of the family, describing each of their situations, as well as their thoughts and reactions to their new challenges. Isaac's imprisonment is almost unbearable to read, and Shirin's choices also made my stomach clench. Parviz's chapters were quite melancholy, as he struggles to find himself in New York. Farnaz's character was a bit distant and difficult to connect to, although that is an appropriate reflection of her relationship with Isaac. I loved reading this book, but I had to put the book down for a few days. I was afraid of the direction the story was taking. Yet when I picked it back up this afternoon, I read non-stop to the end.

Dalia Sofer's own family fled Iran when she was ten. After reading the author interview at the end, it is apparent that much of this novel is drawn from her family's experiences. Which would account for the incredible detail of the book.

If you are at all interested in reading about Iran, I would highly recommend this book. Although it can be difficult to read at times, it is well worth it.

4 comment(s):

Dar said...

I'm just waiting for this book from the library right now. I had read another good review of it and yours is also. It makes me anxious to read it. I agree these books can be difficult to read but at the same time I think we take a lot away from them. Thanks for the great review!

Jessica said...

I am about 40 pages from the end of this book and I agree, beautifully written and heartbreaking at times.

I loved reading from Shirin's POV. I haven't read the interview with Dalia at the end of the book yet, but I wondered how many of Shirin's experiences in the book were based on her own experiences fleeing from the country at the same age.

softdrink said...

Dar - yes, I agree, this book is definitely worth reading, as difficult as it is. Thanks for stopping by!

Jessica - I liked the father's POV best, I felt he was the most developed of all the characters. I'll look forward to your review, if you write one. Thanks for commenting!

bethany said...

I get to read this soon!! I got it last week. Great review! I am Iran/Iraq/Pakistan/India/Afghanistan obsessed...so this will be a great read.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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