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THE FORTUNE CATCHER

A plot-twisting debut about two lovers caught up in the Islamic Revolution of the '70s who defy torture, a monstrous grandmother, and a psychopathic spy. In richly detailed settings that range from Long Island to Tehran, Pari offers an equally diverse range of characters to tell the story of golden couple Layla and Dariush, whose bright future will turn horribly dark. Layla, the daughter of an Iranian businessman and an American Jew whose family disowned her, was raised in New York after her mother's accidental death, but spent summers in Tehran with her family and their close neighbors. Maman Bozorg, the neighbors' matriarch, is a fervent fundamentalist who regards Layla and her father as decadent Westerners, disapproves of her own two sons and their wives, and plots to save the family by getting her two grandchildren, cousins Dariush and Mariam, to marry. Dariush loves Layla, however, and so in the US, where he's a student, the two become engaged. When the Revolution occurs, and Dariush doesn't return home, Maman schemes not only to get him back but to have him drafted, hoping that he can finally be separated from Layla while he serves behind the lines in the war against Iraq. Layla accompanies Dariush to Iran, although a fortune-teller once warned her not to—and rightly: Dariush deserts from the army, the lovers marry, but, as they're about to flee the country, Dariush is arrested and sent to the front, and Layla caught and tortured. The couple is not only up against Maman but also Amir, a Mossad spy and former schoolmate of Dariush's who hates him and wants Layla for himself. Meantime, a pregnant Layla escapes to America, but the story ratchets the tension up even farther before the badly wounded Dariush, once thought dead, can join her. The turns and twists can be more dizzying than riveting, but, still, an accomplished first novel about loving dangerously in dangerous times.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 1997

ISBN: 0-446-52071-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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