Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iran in the 1970s--Pre Revolution (How Appropriate!) "Rooftops in Tehran"

I've been in a little bit of a reading rut recently. I don't know if it's the busy-ness of summer, my baking explosion last weekend (a boston cream pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, and an apple hand pie all in one weekend was probably too much), or the fact that time just seems to be getting away from me recently. Like now, I just looked down at my clock and said "what?! it can't be that late already!" It certainly can't be because I'm watching more tv, since we LOST HALF OUR CHANNELS AFTER THE DTV SWITCH! BAH!

But here's a review of something I did manage to finish in the last week. Hopefully I'll finish more before the fourth and our big trip to the beach!

I did think it was interesting that my reading of this book coincided with the recent political turmoil and voting irregularities in Iran. I couldn't help thinking about the injustices described in this book as I was hearing about fresh injustices in the news.

"Rooftops in Tehran" follows Pasha, a 17 year old boy living in Tehran through one summer that will forever change his life. Pasha lives in a middle class alleyway in Tehran, and is surrounded by friends. When he falls for Zari, the fiance of his idol, Doctor, Pasha begins to question some of the traditions of the Persian people. After Doctor is arrested and killed for subversive activities, Pasha and Zari become closer, until one fateful day when Zari makes a decision that will change their lives forever. Will Pasha recover enought to pursue his longtime dreams in America? Or will the Iranian state drag him down too?

"Rooftops in Tehran" is a hearwrenching story, different from some other novels about Iranian oppression because it is set during the rein of the Shah, rather than after the Iranian revolution. The novel is vehemently anit-American at points, which is historically accurate, but still interesting and brave in a novel marketed in the US. Although overall I enjoyed the book, I did have a couple of major problems, including the ending (which I found extremely unrealistic) and the narrative voice, which was simply too choppy for me to get really comfortable with. There is a lot of time jumping in the first part of the novel which really threw me off, as well as the very stacatto voice of our first person narrator Pasha.

I would recommend this book to others who are interested in Iran during the period before the revolution. The book does not shy away from some of the more brutal parts of the regime, so it really does provide an interesting look.

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