THE HEART'S DESIRE by Nahid Rachlin


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 A third novel from the Iranian-born Rachlin (Foreigner, 1978; Married to a Stranger, 1983) offers an unpretentious but affecting portrait of the irreconcilable conflict between the familiar and the foreign. With the long Iran-Iraq war over, Karim Sahary thinks its safe to take his American wife, Jennifer, and their six-year-old son, Darius, to Teheran to see his family. The year is 1989, and since Americans are still the enemy, the couple uses a circuitous travel route, leaving their passports in Istanbul for safekeeping. The strictures on women imposed by the Khomeini revolution are also still rigorously enforced. And while these political considerations play a role in the events of that summer, it is more the disparate emotional reactions of Karim and Jennifer that will determine the outcome of the visit. Karim, a professor of urban planning, and Jennifer, a graphics designer, met and married during college in Ohio, where they now live. Karim, prevented by the war from seeing his family, has not only felt increasingly alienated from American society but, as an Iranian, has been subject to hostile prejudice. Now, finally back home, he's cheered by seeing his family and excited by the professional challenges he finds in the country. Jennifer, though, is troubled by the pervasive secret police, the narrow lives of the women she meets, her mother-in-law's religiosity, and, most importantly, by Karim's increasing coolness and rejection of their stateside life. When the ailing Darius disappears with his grandmother to the holy city of Qom, Jennifer sets out to find her son, deciding along the way that it's time for the two of them to return homenot an easy decision, as she soon learns. A perceptive account, in polished prose, not only of cultural difference but of conditions in a society still disturbingly alien- -and hostile to our own.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-87286-304-2
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: City Lights
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995