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Five great books set in IRAN

6th May 2020

Iran is the latest place for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five Great Books set in Iran.

Five great books set in IRAN

Iran is NOT what you think – 5 favourite things about the country by Drew Binsky:

  1. The People
  2. The Historical Sites
  3. The Persian Gardens
  4. The Society
  5. The Food

And here are those five great books set in this enigmatic country:

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer

In the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, rare-gem dealer Isaac Amin is arrested, wrongly accused of being a spy. Terrified by his disappearance, his family must reconcile a new world of cruelty and chaos with the collapse of everything they have known.

As Isaac navigates the tedium and terrors of prison, forging tenuous trusts, his wife feverishly searches for him, suspecting, all the while, that their once-trusted housekeeper has turned on them and is now acting as an informer.

And as his daughter, in a childlike attempt to stop the wave of baseless arrests, engages in illicit activities, his son, sent to New York before the rise of the Ayatollahs, struggles to find happiness even as he realizes that his family may soon be forced to embark on a journey of incalculable danger.

A page-turning literary debut, The Septembers of Shiraz simmers with questions of identity, alienation, and love, not simply for a spouse or a child, but for all the intangible sights and smells of the place we call home.

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The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec

In her thirties, Jennifer Klinec abandons a corporate job to launch a cooking school from her London flat. Raised in Canada to Hungarian-Croatian parents, she has already travelled to countries most people are fearful of, in search of ancient recipes. Her quest leads her to Iran where, hair discreetly covered and eyes modest, she is introduced to a local woman who will teach her the secrets of the Persian kitchen.

Vahid, her son, is suspicious of the strange foreigner who turns up in his mother’s kitchen; he is unused to seeing an independent woman. But a compelling attraction pulls them together and then pits them against harsh Iranian laws and customs.

Getting under the skin of one of the most complex and fascinating nations on earth, The Temporary Bride is a soaring story of being loved, being fed, and the struggle to belong.

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A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

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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My Father’s Notebook by Abby Clements & Kader Abdolah

On a holy mountain in the depths of Persia there is a cave with a mysterious cuneiform carving deep inside it. Aga Akbar, a deaf-mute boy from the mountain, develops his own private script from these symbols and writes passionately of his life, his family and his efforts to make sense of the changes the twentieth century brings to his country.

Exiled in Holland a generation later, Akbar’s son Ishmael struggles to decipher the notebook, reflecting on how his own political activities have forced him to flee his country and abandon his family. As he gets closer to the heart of his father’s story, he unravels the intricate tale of how the silent world of a village carpet-mender was forced to give way to one where the increasingly hostile environment of modern Iran has brought the family both love and sacrifice.

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The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther

Richmond Hill in London is a far cry from where Maryam Mazar was born and raised, the little village of Mazareh in Iran, but this affluent suburb is where she has lived for more than forty years. She has what seems a good and comfortable life, with a devoted husband, Edward, and loving daughter, Sara. But when Maryam’s last living sister dies and her twelve-year-old nephew, Saeed, comes from Iran to live with them, his arrival triggers a series of dramatic events, re-opening a wound that Maryam can no longer ignore. She decides there is only one way to heal: she must return home.

With her husband’s reluctant blessing, Maryam travels alone to Mazareh to face both the dreams and the demons of her past. Mazareh is in many ways a harsh place, with mud dwellings and little in the way of creature comforts. Yet when Maryam arrives, she begins to feel a sense of peace and wholeness, a connection with the earth, that has been missing for forty years. And perhaps most important, the first love of her life, Ali, her wealthy father’s former assistant, is here, awaiting her return. The healing has begun.

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Which is your top title to transport you to Iran? Do tell us in the comments below! And if you fancy more reads set in this beautiful part of the world, then just access the Tripfiction database

Andrew for the TripFiction Team

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Check out all the books we are have in our database set in IRAN

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750 - 3000 words with strong 'sense of place' theme

Short story, travelogue, or memoir

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