A doctor shares his life’s journey in an Iran roiled by revolution.
Salimpour was a pediatrician to royalty and some of the world’s wealthiest families, yet no tantalizing tidbits about these people appear in his memoir. Instead, the author focuses on being Jewish in Iran, his humble beginnings and the poor patients who influenced his career. Salimpour’s compassion is apparent, and he fills his writing with genuine emotion as he reflects on the suffering of the children he treated. He relays stories like case histories, at times accompanied by graphic photographs better suited for a medical textbook, and describes in detail the diseases that plagued his patients: small pox, meningitis and tetanus. While Salimpour attempts to maintain professional distance when conveying the facts, he is unable to mask his frustration at the uninformed methods–dog’s blood is given to treat laryngitis, a barber performs circumcisions with unclean tools–that unnecessarily caused these children to suffer and often die. The author clearly illustrates that he is a humanitarian, but he has yet to master literary memoir. Salimpour’s writing veers between the personal and professional in a disjointed manner. Set in Iran, England and America, he jumps among the three countries, which adds confusion to time and place. However, there are a few poetic moments to savor, such as Salimpour’s memories of the Iran of his youth and his torment at leaving an illustrious career due to the Islamic revolution that forever changed the country that still holds his heart.
An admirable story despite the unrefined delivery.