Kat Alexander's Reviews > Rooftops of Tehran

Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji
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's review
Jun 02, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-2010, reviewed
Recommended for: Ariel
Read from June 21 to 23, 2010

Pasha Shahed has a secret. He's in love. That alone is something that seems like it should be kept a secret in 1973 Iran, but the real kicker is that the girl he's in love with, Zari, has been engaged to another man, Doctor, since birth. Pasha even likes this man--everyone does. He's intelligent and an outspoken thinker, especially in their mid-class Tehran neighbourhood.
None of this means that they can't be friends, though. And so begins the summer of 1973, filled with nights in which Pasha and Ahmed sit on their roofs and name stars for those they love--the bigger and brighter the star, the better the person it belongs to. They talk about the government and school and above all, the girls they love. Ahmed has sworn he will marry his love, Faheemeh, and that he will help Pasha marry Zari. Faheemeh swears Zari loves him as well. Soon the four become the best of friends, spending long afternoons in Zari's yard, wondering what will happen when Doctor returns from his mysterious trip into the north of Iran.
One night, he does return--followed by the Shah's secret police. Everything falls apart, and the event leads to Zari's daring decision that will change all of their lives... perhaps permanently.

Absolutely amazing. Seraji's narrative is stunning, simple but quick. Every now and then there is a moment of purely poetic nature, loveliness matched only by the characters themselves. There's no "unexpected" romances--it's out on the table, not falsely tagged as "plot-twists" as in some other books. The two story lines running simultaneously through the beginning of the book could potentially be hard to follow, but I didn't find it so bad. The novel is in turn hilarious and heartbreaking, beautifully written. The vocabulary isn't terribly advanced or poetic on average, easily forgivable considering the author had to learn English on his own when he moved to the United States. It goes without saying, I'm very glad he chose to write this novel in English rather than any other language!

Utterly genuine, passionate, heartbreaking and gripping, Rooftops of Tehran is a stunning portrait of life in a nation on the brink of revolution.

(Reviewed for my blog, accessible here.)
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Quotes Kat Liked

Mahbod Seraji
“I couldn't stand by and watch you put yourselves in harm's way. No way. And fuck those SAVAK bastards, and their Western masters, and the grand servant of the West. Fuck anyone who wants to put me in jail because I stood by my friends to mourn the death of a hero, screw them all. I don't care if I have to spend the rest of my life behind bars, I don't, I really don't. I learned today that friendship is worth making sacrifices for. Doctor proved that life is a small price to pay for your beliefs.”
Mahbod Seraji, Rooftops of Tehran

Reading Progress

06/21/2010 page 4
1.0% "I don't know why yet, but I love this book."
06/22/2010 page 42
12.0% "Ah-hahahaha.... that was hilarious."
06/22/2010 page 49
14.0% ""What is with you girls? Why're your parents always trying to ditch you?" --Ahmed"
06/22/2010 page 142
41.0% "Beautiful in its simplistic style."
06/22/2010 page 200
57.0% "Pasha is officially my hero. Not for what he did, but for what he had the courage to not do."
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