Tajadod’s first novel to be translated into English divides the legendary 13th-century Persian poet’s life into three periods, each governed by his relationship with a particular male beloved.
Hesam, a young student of Rumi, serves as scribe and narrator. Through him we become acquainted with Shams of Tabriz, Rumi’s first and most famous lover. Immediately after these two meet, they sequester themselves in a cell for 40 days and nights. Hesam, forced to wait outside the cell, remarks on the frustrated longings of Kera, Rumi’s young wife, as well as the growing resentment of Rumi’s son Ala, who eventually conspires to bring about Shams’ death. Through a crack in the door, we observe Rumi learning the dance of the whirling dervish. This scene generates a lot of energy and power, but when the dance comes to an end the novel loses its momentum and never regains it. Hesam’s reverential attitude toward Rumi, Shams and Shams’ successor Salah keeps these characters at a distance. When Hesam himself becomes Rumi’s third and final consort, we hope to at last penetrate the mystery of the Master, but the narrative remains as cryptic as ever.
A promising beginning, but in the end an elusive story that fails to convey the magic of a teacher and scholar whose passion produced some of the most beautiful poetry ever written.