Feb 29, 12
Read from February 24 to 29, 2012
I really enjoyed this book it really was a page turner and I couldn’t leave it alone and kept returning to it at every opportunity to continue reading. It is the story of Aqa Jaan and his extended family who are the custodians of The House of the Mosque in Senejan, Iran. It spans from the late 60’s until the early 90’s encompassing the revolution, the Iran – Iraq war and the immediate aftermath of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini. Anyway that’s enough for the blurb.
It is written in very sparse but beautiful prose, the story flows beautifully and the day to day events of the Mosque are fascinating and give a real insight into life under the Shah in pre revolution Iran from the perspective of an ordinary family. The story meanders along recounting the intimate comings and goings of family life in The House of the Mosque.
The book then moves forward towards the period of the Islamic Revolution and the scope of the novel becomes much broader and begins to incorporate real events and people from this period. It highlights the atrocities that took place and aims to give a solid account of the events that took place at that time. The trouble is it then loses some of the intimacy displayed in the first half of the book when the story was centred solely on The House of the Mosque. The story keeps dipping in and out of life in Senejan to give the tale a little cohesion but I thought that the author tried a little too hard to tie real events into fictional ones.
Having said that the book was still very readable and I did enjoy reading about a society that is very different from my own. Kader Abdolah really writes very well and even though I was reading about a place and a time far removed from my own it never felt alien to me. The only other gripe I had was the distinct lack of character development, the only person who I really felt I got to know at all was Aqa Jaan himself, other characters were little more than names and I had no feelings concerning them whatsoever. This comes back to the scope of the novel which had it been a little smaller and the book a little longer would’ve allowed for us to get to know a few of the core characters a little better. Still its an excellent and very interesting read.