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A novel of gratifying richness, set in contemporary Iran, from the Iranian-born author of The Book of Absent People (1986) and two novels in Persian. Professor Hadi Besharat, a historian and world authority on angels, who has lived more in the past than in the present, has managed to evade the implications of the revolution that has taken away his job, as well as his wife's; driven his son to America; turned old friends into helpless bores who survive by telling one another endless stories about the past; made daily life difficult as food, heat, and electricity are in increasingly short supply; and created countless martyrs in the war against Iraq. But the death of a former student, Mehrdad, a young man of great intellectual promise and sympathy, shocks Hadi Besharat into examining his ideas, his life, and his surroundings. He remembers his father who brought him from the countryside, a lost paradise lovingly evoked, to study under the great teacher Fakhr Zanjani. He remembers, too, his visits abroad, especially to America, where he became friends with a fellow professor; his scholarly pursuits; and his courtship of Farangu. These memories of happier times are seamlessly mixed with a growing realization that the little world he has carefully constructed to shelter in cannot endure. The Revolutionary Guards are becoming more intrusive; his wife, depressed and unhappy, wants to join their son; his neighbors are either dying or leaving the country; the regime cynically exploits the death of Mehrdad; and Hadi Besharat's old school has been turned into a prison. His dilemma is resolved in a moving and fitting epiphany that illuminates the meaning of the title. With Hadi Besharat, Modarressi has created a hero who wins our affection as well as our admiration, a professorial Don Quixote, romantic and imaginative, Who tilts at windmills in a society equally fragile and disjointed. A profound and poignant achievement.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Doubleday