Pamela's Reviews > The Septembers of Shiraz

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer
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Jan 06, 08

Read in January, 2008

This is a really beautiful novel about a Jewish family in Iran; the father is imprisoned, accused of being a "Zionist spy" after the fall of the Shah, and his wife, teenaged son, and nine-year-old daughter must cope with his sudden absence and their fears about his fate. A couple of reviewers have used the word "delicate" to describe this novel. That seems apt to me, because of the gentleness and compassion offered to every single character (even, astonishingly, the sadistic and repulsive Revolutionary guards and interrogators). This story of the horrors of a totalitarian and terroristic society is extraordinarily suspenseful yet never crude; Sofer's style is understated, intelligent, and simply lovely.

But the highest achievement of this novel is that Sofer makes the reader actually feel what it would be like to be a father, mother, son, and daughter faced in the process of losing security, freedom, beauty, and comfort--makes her feel the loneliness that comes with being forced to surrender country and past. The only other book I can remember that conveyed this as powerfully to me is Eva Hoffman's memoir Lost in Translation.

My only two quibbles are that, 1) a crucial choice the father makes toward the end is never examined morally; and 2) nor is the fact that while many of the wealthy manage to escape the Islamist regime, the family servant (whose portrait shades just slightly into sentimentality at the end) and those like her have no option but to remain.
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message 1: by Boof (new) - added it

Boof Lovely review, Pamela. I'm going to pick this up now.

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