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A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea

Author(s): Dina Nayeri

Location(s): Iran

Genre(s): Fiction

Era(s): 1980s onwards

Location

Content

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Growing up in a small fishing village in 1980s Iran, 11-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister Mahtab are fascinated by America. They keep lists of English vocabulary words and collect contraband copies of Life magazine and Bob Dylan cassettes. So when Saba suddenly finds herself abandoned, alone with her father in Iran, she is certain that her mother and twin have moved to America without her. Bereft, she aches for her lost mother and sister, and for the Western life she believes she is being denied.

All her life Saba has been taught that ‘fate is in the blood,’ which must mean that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea. Thus, as time passes and Saba falls in and out of love and struggles with the limited possibilities available to her as a woman in Iran, she imagines a simultaneous, parallel life – a Western version, for her sister. But where Saba’s story has all the grit and brutality of real life in post-revolutionary Iran, her sister’s life – as Saba envisions it – gives her a freedom and control that Saba can only dream of.

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Lead Review

There’s a kaleidoscopic quality to Dina Nayeri’s prose, evoking the beat of Eastern storytelling, while its cadences remain resolutely American… The novel’s message, however, is universal: we must do all we can to control...

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