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by Dalia Sofer

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-06-113040-3
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

An Iranian Jew waits wrongly accused in prison while his family slowly crumbles in Tehran and New York.

In the wake of the Iranian Revolution, as the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Republic is first being established, gem dealer Isaac Amin is arrested near his opulent Tehran home. Technically accused of being an Israeli spy, Isaac’s real crimes are his religion and his personal wealth. As his interrogators try to break him with physical abuse and neglect, Isaac is most tortured by the memories of his family, with whom he is allowed no contact. On the homefront, the situation is similarly bleak. Isaac’s beloved wife Farnaz tirelessly seeks information about her husband, and in doing so, begins to question the loyalty of the family’s trusted maid, Habibeh, whose son (a former employee of Isaac’s) has become an ardent member of the Republic. Isaac and Farnaz’s precocious young daughter, Shirin, decides to take matters into her own hands, risking the family’s lives when she steals confidential files from a classmate’s home in the hopes of saving her uncle from the same fate as her father. And, an ocean away, son Parviz feels the strains in different ways, when both information and money from his family suddenly stops. He takes a room and job with a welcoming Hassidic man in Brooklyn, and, against his better judgment, falls in love with the daughter, Rachel. Eventually, Isaac triumphs over his accusers by bribing his way out of prison with a gift of his life savings. But the family’s troubles are hardly over, and as they try to make their way out of the country to reunite their family overseas, young Shirin’s well-intentioned plan threatens to curtail all their efforts. Sofer’s characters are immensely sympathetic and illustrate plainly and without pretense the global issues of class, religion and politics following the Iranian Revolution.

As intelligent as it is gripping.