Called back home to Tehran by a mysterious friend with whom he went to Berkeley, an Iranian academic, Malek, is drawn into a world of trouble.
Having hoped for greater fortunes with his doctorate in Middle Eastern studies and his experience as an interpreter in Iraq and Afghanistan, Malek has accepted a well-paying but middling-status job teaching "creative reportage" in Harlem. His wealthy friend Sina, who has developed into a rabid anti-American, is now aligned with a reactionary organization in Tehran. Partly out of misguided loyalty and partly out of curiosity, Malek agrees to help him on a mysterious matter involving big money. Against his better judgment, Malek accepts power of attorney over Sina's holdings, making himself a target of shady figures including the double-dealing agent Fani. In post-revolutionary Iran, corruption and violence abound. Reunited with his mother, whom he hasn't seen since he was a child, Malek gets even more over his head by trying to get her a passport so she can immigrate to the U.S. The Iranian-born Abdoh (Opium, 2004, etc.), who himself divides his time between New York and Tehran, expertly evokes the tense atmosphere in Tehran and the chaos preceding an election. But the novel is talky, a failing not helped by the flatness of the dialogue, and much of the foreign intrigue seems secondhand.
A penetrating look into contemporary Tehran, Abdoh's latest novel is less than satisfying as a thriller.