SAVUSHUN by Simin Daneshvar


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A best-selling novel in Iran since its publication in 1969, this translation marks the US debut of Iran's leading woman writer. Set in WW II Iran (the country, then called Persia, was occupied by the Soviets and British to thwart any German takeover of the oil fields), Savushun (meaning ""hope"") is as much about one woman's growth as it is about how to live honorably in uncertain times. Zari, a young wife and mother of three, has always wanted to live her life in the traditionally feminine way by maintaining a loving and peaceful home and avoiding confrontations. Her husband, Yusof, a man of honor and principle who refuses to become involved in the various factions who are beholden to the British or the Russians, believes it his duty to feed his peasants rather than sell his estate's produce at great profit to one side or another. Yusof is the paradigmatic man of honor, of virtue and moderation, the kind who is too often an anomaly when situations are polarized. As family members, old friends and political adversaries plot, and typhus and famine become endemic, Zari increasingly realizes that she can no longer be passive and fearful of action. When Yusof dies in a politically motivated assassination, the grieving Zari finally renounces her fears and doubts and resolves to live like Yusof (to ""be brave while alive and for the living""). Daneshvar lovingly details the old Persian customs and way of life. And the conflict between an understandable yearning for peace and tranquillity in the face of change and tragedy is movingly evoked. It is a sympathetic but never sentimental account of one woman's rite of passage. A timely and welcome debut.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Mage