By Dalia Sofer
I must admit when I picked the book for my Orbis Terranum list, it was the memorable title that drew me more than the content, but when I turned the last page of the book today, it had transcended to be much more than an attractive label.
The novel in a nut shell is evocative and powerful; and like they say, a good book like this one leaves you a little exhausted in the end. ‘The Septembers of Shiraz’ is a story of a Jewish family in the wake of revolution in Iran in the early eighties. The tale is narrated in view points of the family members, at times divulging in prose and poetry that depict the culture of a nation that once was.
When Amin is arrested on reticent terms, which include being a rich Jew in a country that is undergoing an Islamic revolution, their perfect world is shattered in seconds. Sofer has woven this suspenseful tale, so real and poignant; you could be up all night reading till the end. The narration is fresh and soft; with the mention of many Iranian terms of agha, kahnoum, samovar and others which were indeed a pleasure to the read, read aloud and you can smell the minted tea or smoky kebabs in them!
Besides the romantics of ghazal like prose, I believe the story though simple had conveyed something deep; the author had wanted to insist that roots of a person belong to the land he comes from. Irrespective of the religion you follow, your love for your motherland is more pronounced. And when this allegiance to the nation is questioned it is only because of the religion tag one has inherited.
The book is an engaging one, presenting a peek into the life of Jews in Iran, which I had no knowledge of before. It is also about passion to ones land and of hope and faith. And above all Sofer’s writing is extremely beautiful, poetic and mellifluous. I would recommend this book very highly and look forward to more books from Sofer.