Read Women discussion

Disoriental
This topic is about Disoriental
56 views
Previous Reads: Around the World > Iran: Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

Comments Showing 1-41 of 41 (41 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Anita (last edited Oct 01, 2020 09:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anita Fajita Pita (anitafajitapitareada) | 947 comments Mod
This is the thread for our October Read Around the World selection of Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, translated from French for anyone participating in our yearly Women in Translation challenge.
Disoriental from Goodreads:
The story of a young girl and her family, at the core of an exploration of Iranian history.
WINNER: Prix du Style, Prix de la Porte Dorée, Lire Best Debut Novel, Le Prix du Roman News.
Kimiâ Sadr fled Iran at the age of ten in the company of her mother and sisters to join her father in France. Now twenty-five, with a new life and the prospect of a child, Kimiâ is inundated by her own memories and the stories of her ancestors, which reach her in unstoppable, uncontainable waves. In the waiting room of a Parisian fertility clinic, generations of flamboyant Sadrs return to her, including her formidable great-grandfather Montazemolmolk, with his harem of fifty-two wives, and her parents, Darius and Sara, stalwart opponents of each regime that befalls them.

In this high-spirited, kaleidoscopic story, key moments of Iranian history, politics, and culture punctuate stories of family drama and triumph. Yet it is Kimiâ herself—punk-rock aficionado, storyteller extraordinaire, a Scheherazade of our time, and above all a modern woman divided between family traditions and her own “disorientalization”—who forms the heart of this bestselling and beloved novel.

Négar Djavadi from Goodreads:

Négar Djavadi was born in Iran in 1969 to a family of intellectuals opposed to the regimes both of the Shah, then of Khomeini. She arrived in France at the age of eleven, having crossed the mountains of Kurdistan on horseback with her mother and sister. She is a screenwriter and lives in Paris. Disoriental is her first novel.

This month's discussion will be lead by Liesl.


message 2: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 465 comments I ordered a used copy of this a few days ago and it said it would take up to 17 days to arrive so I was very happy to see it this morning just on time! I have read the prologue, the writing seems excellent and I'm looking forward to our discussion


Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 643 comments I read this in June of this year and really loved it. I'm looking forward to the discussion and to seeing what others think of it.


Liesl | 486 comments I have to apologise to you all. When I am leading the discussion, I am usually a little more organised and try to be well underway, if not finished, so that I can try to come up with some interesting discussion points for us to work from. I have been a little distracted from my reading lately and so I will be reading along with you all.

Besides Hannah and Tamara, who is joining us?

I thought it might be interesting to start by asking what the difference between immigration and exile might have upon the life a person experiences in their new "home"?


Anita Fajita Pita (anitafajitapitareada) | 947 comments Mod
I'm first in line for an e-copy so I should be joining pretty soon. No need to apologize Liesl, I look forward to reading and discussing with everyone.

To answer your question, I think the biggest difference would be the person's outlook. Someone exiled is not going to a new home with the same optimism and eagerness as someone who chose to emigrate. They might also have differing opinions of their motherland depending on ther circumstances of how and why they left.
Also negative labels, if known by the community, could add another layer of social stigma coming at them from outside forces above and beyond the usual anti-immigration rhetoric certain cultures hold. So much of a person's immigration story is shaped by their reception in their new home country, and that reception experience lasts much longer than a day or week or even year.


Alwynne | 938 comments I think I may join for this one although probably won't be until later in the month, have to finish some other things first, but read an extract and it looks really interesting.


Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 643 comments Liesl wrote: "I have to apologise to you all. When I am leading the discussion, I am usually a little more organised and try to be well underway, if not finished, so that I can try to come up with some interesti..."

No worries, Liesl. We can muddle through this together. My problem is I no longer have the book so I'm not sure I can remember a lot of the details. Since I wrote a review of the book, I'm hoping that will help trigger my memory.

Liesl wrote: "I thought it might be interesting to start by asking what the difference between immigration and exile might have upon the life a person experiences in their new "home"?

I see the difference between immigrant and exile as degrees of choice.

An immigrant may choose to leave his/her home country for a variety of reasons, including economic, political, hope for a better future, etc. But he/she harbors the hope that the situation will improve allowing for a return to the home country.

The first generation immigrant is constantly looking back at the home country, hoping for signs that the situation is improving. So, in a sense, the adopted country feels temporary. A second generation immigrant feels a greater sense of belonging to the adopted country and may not have the same attachments to the land of his/her parents.

An exile doesn't have a choice. He/she has been banished from the home country and cannot return for fear of being thrown in jail, put under house arrest, or, in some cases, executed.

Someone sent into exile by his/her government will recognize the dangers in returning to the home country and so may more readily accept that the adopted country has become his/her permanent home.

I hope that makes sense.


Liesl | 486 comments Tamara wrote: "The first generation immigrant is constantly looking back at the home country, hoping for signs that the situation is improving. So, in a sense, the adopted country feels temporary.

Someone sent into exile by his/her government will recognize the dangers in returning to the home country and so may more readily accept that the adopted country has become his/her permanent home.
..."


That is a very interesting point about the differing perspectives about acceptance of their adopted country. I would have thought that their positions would be reversed on this because the immigrant chooses to leave their home to start a new life in the new country. So they want to forge a new life/connection in this new place. Whereas the exile is forced to leave their country due to circumstances outside their control so their attachment to their home country is still very strong. They harbour a hope that one day the circumstances that caused them to leave will be resolved and they can go back.

A second generation immigrant feels a greater sense of belonging to the adopted country and may not have the same attachments to the land of his/her parents.

I see this with my own children - although it is a little different for them as they have a parent from both countries. So obviously their attachment to the local country is not just due to logistics.


Liesl | 486 comments Hannah wrote: "I have read the prologue, the writing seems excellent..."

I started reading this last night and the writing is wonderful. I am often fascinated by what it is that makes one book an instant addiction (so to speak) and another book more difficult to get into. I already feel enthralled by what will unfold.

How do people feel about the narration technique? Do you feel connected with the voice? Or are you wondering if they are reliable?


Sophie | 179 comments I managed to get an ebook copy through Hoopla. It’s awkward reading on an older iPad but I really like the story. I am up to Side B.
The stories on the history of Iran are terrific; a different perspective from what we were given on the evening news.


Mary Elisabeth Tharin | 1 comments I absolutely loved the narration in this book! I think the voice was what drew me in from page one. And the narrator sets up several mysteries that you want to figure out, and the answers aren't revealed until much later, which is great. I don't think I ever worried about unreliability; the voice of the narrator seemed too observant and incisive for that. I knew I was getting a specific viewpoint on everything. Still, I felt instantly connected.


message 12: by Tamara (last edited Oct 03, 2020 07:13AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 643 comments I, too, loved the narrator's voice. I thought it was one of the strengths of the novel. From my review:

But perhaps the greatest strength of this novel lies in the narrator’s voice. Kimiâ frequently addresses the reader directly. Her tone is intimate, as if she is sharing her life story with a close friend. She can be funny, informative, serious, sarcastic, complex, confused, and conflicted. But throughout it all, she is authentic, engaging, charming, and believable.


Liesl | 486 comments Sophie wrote: "I really like the story. I am up to Side B.
The stories on the history of Iran are terrific; a different perspective from what we were given on the evening news..."


Sorry for not commenting before, Sophie. I have finally made it to Side B.

There is so much in the history that is so relevant to things going on in the world today. It really is disappointing how a few countries have manipulated events in the world just to get their hands on oil resources. Mankind really doesn't seem to learn from the past, either.

I'm looking forward to reading Sara's perspective in this part of the book to see how it contrasts to Kimia's view of what happened.


Anita Fajita Pita (anitafajitapitareada) | 947 comments Mod
Just starting this today and I also like the narrator's voice. Very engaging style so far


message 15: by Liesl (last edited Oct 18, 2020 05:13AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liesl | 486 comments Liesl wrote: "I'm looking forward to reading Sara's perspective in this part of the book to see how it contrasts to Kimia's view of what happened. .."

So if Goodreads had emoji icons I would definitely be posting the blushing face with respect to my previous comment. It has been a difficult story to comment on along the way as it is so interwoven. The comparisons to Scheherazade obviously stem from this although I found myself thinking more about the myth of Arachne and how weaving symbolises storytelling. Until you see the finished tapestry, you can't see the entire picture.

For me, the symbolism of weaving also connects to the comments during the story about how the oral history of the family was generally the duty of the women (despite it being the role of Uncle Number 2 in the Sadr family).

I finished the book last night and I thought it was wonderful. The story is powerful and heartbreaking and full of themes that also seem to be interconnected on many levels. I've jotted down some quotes from the book that really resonated with me. I thought that over the coming week, I would post some of them and hopefully provoke some discussion about the story.


Liesl | 486 comments Motherhood:

Given the special status allocated to Sara as the only other voice that we hear in this story and the events taking place in the present of Kimia's life at the telling of this story, I thought it might be interesting to look at the theme of Motherhood first.

Quote 1: "For Sara, being part of a couple, being married, sexuality - none of that was worth anything in itself. Those were only consensual steps, necessary springboards to reach the higher plane of existence that was motherhood." (p42)

To what extent did you find this statement to be true given the events of the story that Kimia shares with us?

Quote 2: "No longer the powerless, docile mother, but the woman who had read Dostoyevsky, had patiently deciphered each sentence, had educated herself in silence." (p54)

Nour herself is an exile during her lifetime. How do her actions influence the life of Darius? How does her life connect with Kimia's?

Quote 3: "What still bothers me is that we let her think, out of laziness, that we weren't interested, not only in what she had written, but in what she had accomplished." (p203)

Sara became an acclaimed author after writing the history of their life and exile. Does a mother need to hear from her children that they are proud of her accomplishments, or is her role to provide the example while allowing her children to find their own place in the world?

Quote 4: "How to reconcile my distorted child's view with her realistic one, and pick up at the exact point where she left off" (p204)

Why do you think that Kimia chose to use Sara's words to relate the story of their journey out of Iran?


message 17: by Anita (last edited Oct 21, 2020 12:48PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anita Fajita Pita (anitafajitapitareada) | 947 comments Mod
Liesl wrote: "There is so much in the history that is so relevant to things going on in the world today. It really is disappointing how a few countries have manipulated events in the world just to get their hands on oil resources. Mankind really doesn't seem to learn from the past, either..."

I just read a section summarizing the many changes of power and felt pretty moved to highlight this:
Once again, intellectuals and nationalists lost ground to the military, the clergy, and foreign powers (p.109).
She talks about history being an endless loop of going backwards, and I do wonder how this idea will translate to her personal story of motherhood at the clinic considering we (at least I, since I haven't finished) still don't know the story of her and Pierre and how she's "scamming" her way through the fertility clinic.

I sometimes feel frustrated by the way the narrator will tell us a story and then stop to go back to another character, but I also think it's a very clever way to tell the story as it shows connection and keeps things moving along, at least skipping along.
"This tendancy to make endless small talk, to throw sentences like lassoes into the air to meet one another, to tell stories which, like Russian matryoska dolls, open to reveal other stories, is, I suppose, one way to deal with a fate consisting of nothing but invasions and totalitarianism... It's a way of forestalling fear, of taking comfort where you can find it -- in meetings and acknowledgments, in the rubbing up of your existence against someone else's,"(p.43).


message 18: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 465 comments Is anyone else struggling to get into this? Sorry that I haven't participated much but I haven't managed to get very far in. It's probably me and not the book, I have just started working again after a year off and am struggling with my chronic pain conditions which make reading very difficult and I do really want to give this book my full attention. Hopefully I'll be able to get more into it soon


Alwynne | 938 comments Hannah I started but then put it down again, if that helps, will go back to it later. I'm really sorry you're dealing with chronic pain it must be so incredibly exhausting, I hope you're getting decent support at work, and time to rest.


message 20: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 465 comments Thanks Alwynne, exhausted I am...


message 21: by Anita (last edited Oct 20, 2020 03:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anita Fajita Pita (anitafajitapitareada) | 947 comments Mod
Hannah wrote: "Is anyone else struggling to get into this? Sorry that I haven't participated much but I haven't managed to get very far in. It's probably me and not the book, I have just started working again aft..."

I have a hard time getting into this book as well. I do really enjoy it, but I only manage a couple chapters a day. I'm not sure what it is because I do like it. I think the most I read at once was 3 or 4 chapters and this is about 50 - 100 pages in. But yes, it's a slow read for me too. Sorry about your pain too. Maybe a soak in the tub with the book can help with both issues.
*eta: not to suggest a bath will heal your chronic pain, just that maybe you could focus on the book as you soaked. Sorry if that came off as a little flippant Hannah!


Liesl | 486 comments Anita wrote: " "This tendancy to make endless small talk, to throw sentences like lassoes into the air to meet one another, to tell stories which, like Russian matryoska dolls, open to reveal other stories, is, I suppose, one way to deal with a fate consisting of nothing but invasions and totalitarianism..."

This is a great quote. I particularly like the imagery of the Matryoska doll in terms of the layers of female ancestors in this story.


Liesl | 486 comments Hannah wrote: "Is anyone else struggling to get into this? Sorry that I haven't participated much but I haven't managed to get very far in. It's probably me and not the book, I have just started working again aft..."

I'm sorry that you are dealing with chronic pain, Hannah. Don't give the timeframe of this monthly chat any thought. Read it at your leisure. I hope that you at least make it to the early part of Side B as I found (view spoiler) to be very interesting and educational.


Irphen | 18 comments I read this a couple of years ago when I was at high school and althought I don't remember everything I still remember I rather appreciated it. All the different stories about Kimiâ's family were interesting but sometimes I was struggling a bit as well to read on. This could be because I was a bit frustrated not t.o read more about Kimiâ herself.


message 25: by Liesl (last edited Oct 23, 2020 04:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liesl | 486 comments Adaptation:

1. "It should come as no surprise that we unlearn - at least partially - what we used to be, to make room for what we have become" (p45)

Is this always a bad thing? When we talk about evolution in terms of survival of the species, change is a necessity for survival. Do you agree that we "unlearn" things or do you think we reevaluate our thinking about what is important for our lives and our existence, and what can be put to the side or the past?

2. "It goes back to when we first came to France, when, every time I opened my mouth, people reminded me that I had an accent" (p98)

How much of the change is chosen, and how much is imposed by a desire to fit-in? Do you think the children/teenagers feel this desire to fit-in more than adults?

3. "I had the suffocating sense of being trapped in a narrow hallway with a door at either end, condemned to be there forever" (p209)

I thought this was a wonderful analogy for being the feeling of displacement that many immigrants experience, especially the children who are caught between two cultures. How do you think this impacts the family unit? Are there any dangers for the people experiencing that feeling? What about society in general? How could we improve this situation?


Terri R | 2 comments I am not sure when I will get to read this, but just bought Kindle version for 2.99 (paperback 12.99). Looks delicious!


message 27: by Carol (last edited Oct 23, 2020 10:28AM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2091 comments Mod
Hannah wrote: "Is anyone else struggling to get into this? Sorry that I haven't participated much but I haven't managed to get very far in. It's probably me and not the book, I have just started working again aft..."

Hannah, you've got a way lot going on at once - wow. my hat is off to you on the new job stress and learnings that come with that, and to tackle that while also experiencing issues with chronic pain is Courage with a capital C. best of luck with managing both and getting to where the job, at least, gets slightly more comfortable.

I couldn't make it past page 15 last year when I tried to read Disoriental, and its subject matter is squarely in my high-interest zone. it's the oddest thing - I routinely have challenges reading novels published by Europa Editions. maybe it's a font thing, or too much content on each page or perhaps it's me and this author's style, but I found it more dense than I could take in, at least at the time I tried to read it.


Anita Fajita Pita (anitafajitapitareada) | 947 comments Mod
I just started Side B which I think will shift the view of their Homeland as the narration switches from Kimiâ to Sara.

It does seem like a loss, like a sadness, that section on assimilation that you quoted for 1. Whether it's for the eventual good of adaptation, losing a piece of ones culture is a little sad, imo. It's like a child giving up eating their favorite foods at school for lunch because the food is considered "stinky" at school. There are hundreds of small things that people give up in order to assimilate into even our own American culture. Even if it's just hiding who they are while in public, it's a little sad that we all do this, but immigrants even more so, I would think.


message 29: by Anita (last edited Oct 27, 2020 02:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anita Fajita Pita (anitafajitapitareada) | 947 comments Mod
Well, I finished it. I definitely ended with a much better opinion of the book than I thought I would, considering how long it took me to read it. But, I guess some stories just need the time to be told, and the finished product makes one step back and admire the whole.

Towards the end, probably from Side B onward, the pace picked up alot for me because Kimiâ's stories - both past and present - began to move forward. Although, even the pacing aligns with the events of the story - she tells us about her childhood in Iran as she waits, seemingly endlessly, in the waiting room, and as she finally gets to the table, her family is crossing mountains and she begins hinting at THE EVENT. Afterwards, the story seems like it just continues on its own momentum as Kimiâ travels and becomes who she is, and the story of her unravels itself from the story of her family for us.

This quote, that Liesl posted in part above, has stuck with me, and kind of encompasses the book as a whole for me:
"I have become - as I'm sure everyone does who has left his or her country - someone else. Someone who has translated myself into other cultural codes. Firstly in order to survive, and then to go beyond survival and forge a future for myself. And since it is a generally acknowledged idea that something is lost in translation, it should come as no surprise that we unlearn - at least partially - what we used to be, to make room for what we have become. "
This is pretty much a broad summary of the journey Kimiâ makes (both physically and characteristically) throughout this book. I think if one finishes this book and return to the beginning that they would find Side A much more fathomable.


message 30: by Hannah (last edited Oct 24, 2020 10:51AM) (new)

Hannah | 465 comments Carol wrote: "Hannah wrote: "Is anyone else struggling to get into this? Sorry that I haven't participated much but I haven't managed to get very far in. It's probably me and not the book, I have just started wo..."

It's funny isn't it? I don't not like the book, I find the themes interesting, the voice is authentic, writing great ... But for some reason I'm struggling to pick it back up. I intend to persevere once my head is spinning less and I will read everybody's thoughts in more detail once I'm further in (don't even know what side B is yet!).

Thanks for all your supportive comments everyone 🙂


message 31: by Liesl (last edited Oct 25, 2020 04:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liesl | 486 comments Anita wrote: "This quote, that Liesl posted in part above, has stuck with me, and kind of encompasses the book as a whole for me:..."

Thanks for posting that passage in its entirety. It is even better that way. I was reading this on a kindle and only marked the end section of the quote. It is the downside of the kindle as you don't get to see the passage in its context when you are going back over the quotes that you highlighted.

I feel compassion for all the people who are forced to flee their homelands and start a new life somewhere else. It is sad to think about the loss of that life which they would have experienced had they been able to continue living in their homeland.

I am an optimist though so I also think about the gains. While some traditions are discarded, some new ones are gained and the blending of the two creates something more diverse. That is really what I was trying to express when I linked this particular quote to the idea of evolution. I would also add here that it is idealistic to believe that all the traditions of our culture are good or perfect. It is something that we experience when we leave one home for another. We often think of all the wonderful aspects of our former home that we no longer get to experience, and we forget to consider the aspects that were not so great and might now be better where we are.

I also don't believe that you completely unlearn and discard something that is a part of you. You might push it into the background and store it in your memory but it is still there & a part of who you are. Kimia is a product of everything that she has experienced during her life. Her life has been extremely complicated both in Side A and Side B, due to (view spoiler)


Liesl | 486 comments We are in the final week of the month now so I thought I would try to post a quote each day until Saturday.

1. "To be honest, nothing is more like exile than birth. Being torn, out of survival, instinct or necessity, with violence and hope, from your first home, your protective cocoon, only to be propelled into an unknown world where you constantly have to deal with curious stares" (p118)

I look forward to hearing your comments on this one. How do you feel about the idea that home is in the womb? Are there only "curious stares" or is there something more? Does this tell us more about the childhood that Kimia experienced?

2. "Freedom is an illusion. The only thing that changes is the size of your prison" (p220)


Liesl | 486 comments "Teachers and students would ask us ridiculous and sometimes offensive questions that demonstrated their ignorance more than anything".

How did you feel about this comment? I have to admit to being torn. I understand that it can be surprising/frustrating/amusing to discover how little people really know about your country or your culture. Kimia had attended a French School in Iran and lived in a family environment that valued France. This would have provided her with an education about France that most French students would not receive about Iran.

I also feel that if they were asking questions it was to learn something or at least to show interest. Obviously I wasn't there so I have no idea what the questions were or what the tone they used when asking the question might have been.

After the experience that Kimia had with the French Embassy in Turkey, was her attitude towards the French impartial?


message 34: by Hannah (last edited Oct 29, 2020 09:33AM) (new)

Hannah | 465 comments I am getting into this book now, thankfully my pain levels have improved a little. I'm starting to be able to keep track of the many diversions and characters better and am feeling invested in what is to come.

The quote which Liesl and Anita shared has stayed with me also:
"I have become - as I'm sure everyone does who has left his or her country - someone else. Someone who has translated myself into other cultural codes. Firstly in order to survive, and then to go beyond survival and forge a future for myself. And since it is a generally acknowledged idea that something is lost in translation, it should come as no surprise that we unlearn - at least partially - what we used to be, to make room for what we have become. "

I agree that it is both sad and positive; it must be necessary for everyone, to some extent, to be able to live their lives in changing circumstances -whenever jobs, communities, neighborhoods, relationships change - as the book says in order to survive. For people who have changed everything all at once though due to immigration/exile/displacement etc it must be completely overwhelming, I can't even comprehend. I also found this idea of adaptation to be an interesting contrast to this next quote:

"Waiting is a progressive, insidious phenomenon, an activity in itself. And while we wait, whether out of necessity, need, desire, or imitation, we don't revolt. The whole strategy is to drain people of their energy, their ability to reflect and oppose. To reduce them to immediate goals, as fleeting as a single pleasure."

It's almost as if not adapting and moving forward (as in the first quote) leaves people in a state of inertia, like a no man's land and to do so would be to give up on life itself.

Liesl, I am still early on in the book and trying to avoid spoilers so will read your questions and quotes in more detail later :)


Liesl | 486 comments Hannah wrote: "I am getting into this book now, thankfully my pain levels have improved a little. I'm starting to be able to keep track of the many diversions and characters better and am feeling invested in what..."

I'm so glad that you are feeling a little better, Hannah. I do think it is a book that gains momentum. The further you get into it, the harder it is to put down.

Hannah wrote: "It's almost as if not adapting and moving forward (as in the first quote) leaves people in a state of inertia, like a no man's land and to do so would be to give up on life itself."

I think that is a wonderful reflection on the contrasting quote. It ties in quite well with the final quote that I highlighted in message 25: "I had the suffocating sense of being trapped in a narrow hallway with a door at either end, condemned to be there forever" (p209) Although the narrative does constantly change stories, perspectives and time, it is incredibly woven so that everything is interconnected.

Hannah wrote: "Liesl, I am still early on in the book and trying to avoid spoilers so will read your questions and quotes in more detail later :)"

I should have used the spoiler option a little more but have saved it for the more sensitive comments that couldn't be avoided. The rest I tried to be a little vague in my comments so as not to spoil things for those reading in a different moment. I will keep an eye on the discussion for any late comments. We all read at our own pace and within our own time constraints.


Liesl | 486 comments As we approach the end of the month, I thought it might be interesting to discuss the title of the novel. "Disoriental" is a blended word that encompasses Kimia's struggle with her connection/disconnection with her culture of birth, as well as her own confusion about who she is and what her future will be.

Did you contemplate the title before you started? Did it have any bearing on how you read the narrative?


Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 643 comments Liesl wrote: "Did you contemplate the title before you started? Did it have any bearing on how you read the narrative?.."

I saw the title as doing a couple of things: combining the disorientation that characterizes the immigrant experience in general; the disorientation of families moving from the orient to Europe; and the disintegration of a large, cohesive family unit uprooted from its homeland to scatter all over the globe.

I think the title accurately reflects what happens in the novel.


Liesl | 486 comments Tamara wrote: "Liesl wrote: "Did you contemplate the title before you started? Did it have any bearing on how you read the narrative?.."

I saw the title as doing a couple of things: combining the disorientation ..."


In addition, I also liked the idea that the prefix "dis" means not, or the opposite of. So when combined with "oriental" it expresses the story that Kimia is telling about her experience growing up in France and no longer feeling part of her culture.


message 39: by Liesl (last edited Oct 31, 2020 04:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liesl | 486 comments To finish up today I thought that I would leave you with one final quote that I felt circles back to my question at the beginning of the month regarding the reliability of the narrator.

"Our memories select, eliminate, exaggerate, minimise, glorify, denigrate. They create their own versions of events and serve up their own reality" (p9)

I'm not suggesting that Kimia is completely unreliable. I just noticed that there were times where I felt that the narration was clouded by what Kimia was feeling at that moment in time. Hers is a story of isolation, silence, and exile not only in terms of their situation in Iran and then later their life in France, but also due to (view spoiler). I think this is why I was excited at the prospect that Side B was an alternate perspective of the story.

I look forward to hearing any other comments or thoughts people have had about this novel.


Anita Fajita Pita (anitafajitapitareada) | 947 comments Mod
Firstly, thanks so much for leading this discussion so well Liesl. You've made such insightful comments about the book, and really prompted discussion with your quotes and questions, not to mention keeping me motivated and on track!
I completely agree that the book gains traction, as i had a hard time in thr beginning, but truly couldn't put it down once I reached Side B.

Kimiâ's journeys - the physical and self - were somehow entwined yet separate, and I think this is why the way the book was written, going back and forth, was ultimately successful.
Leading to your final quote about memories: I felt that the evolution of her relationship with her self and her family is told through the self analyzation of her past and memories, and shifting her perspective of how she experienced it then vs how she views it now as a grownup. Also, when she is reflecting on her sisters in the present, we see that they have grown and that their own views of their parents and childhood have shifted - as I think is a natural part of aging - and how now they have taken on some of those roles and traditions that their parents, and specifically Sara, used to hold, while having shed others as they grew up in Paris.


Liesl | 486 comments Anita wrote: "I felt that the evolution of her relationship with her self and her family is told through the self analyzation of her past and memories, and shifting her perspective of how she experienced it then vs how she views it now as a grownup. Also, when she is reflecting on her sisters in the present, we see that they have grown and that their own views of their parents and childhood have shifted - as I think is a natural part of aging - and how now they have taken on some of those roles and traditions that their parents, and specifically Sara, used to hold, while having shed others as they grew up in Paris...."

That is true, Anita. We do see them come together more towards the end. I found it sad that Kimia still (view spoiler)


back to top