I found the first novel by Dalia Sofer The Septembers of Shiraz for one dollar while looking through books at a Goodwill store in Minneapolis. The shelves were in no particular order, so the same books promoted by the big publishing houses could be found ever fifty or so books – volume printing now on sale. While The Septembers of Shiraz, according to the cover, was a national bestseller, it was the only copy on the shelf and I had not heard of the novel. Lucky me. I found the book to be quite a page turner.
What makes the novel so compelling is how it weaves together multiple stories seamlessly. For Sofer, while the world is turned upside down, the one constant is time. Tehran and New York City may not see the sun rise and set at the same time, but they eventually do. While someone is in prison in solitary, someone else is taking in laundry. This contemporaneousness and universality seems to bring the characters hope and the ability to persevere against the odds . She writes about these and many other themes with a poignant restrained lyricism. Her depictions of Tehran and Iran are so vivid you can almost hear and smell the streets.
Iran will be in the news for years to come and the years following the 1979 revolution will always be a pivotal time in history. While I will do the best to not spoil the story, the novel is in many ways autobiographical. Dalia and her family did attempt to leave Iran and unlike the movie Argo they did not pose as a Canadian film crew. I will leave it at that.
This reviewer gives The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer 5 stars. Feel free to pay the full price at your local book seller.