Author: Simin Daneshvar
Translator: M.R. Ghanoonparvar
Length: 286 pages
Published in: 1969
Genre: world fiction
Source: borrowed from library
Reason for Reading: Around the World in 12 Books Challenge
Set in Allied-occupied Iran during WWII, this story focuses on Zari, a woman in her mid-20s, as she lives out her everyday life as a mother and wife.
Specifically, the story takes place in Shiraz, in what sounds like a typical middle-class family, leaning towards the upper/middle-class status. While the summary of the book says it takes place during WWII, there is very little that proves that is true. One mention of Hitler and another discussion about “comrades” are the only allusions to the timing of the story. I know a lot about WWII, but I admit that is from an almost exclusive American/European perspective. I didn’t learn anything about Iran during WWII either, as the book didn’t really focus on a bigger picture– just what Zari was feeling and experiencing.
But the story was not based so much on plot, either. I felt like there was a lot of description, if not just between the lines. But, while there were just hints here and there of what the landscape was like, for example, I felt like it was really easy to picture where I was. I imagine life before WASP involvement in the Middle East was very different from life as it is today, riddled by war and foreign military involvement. And my imagination of the book setting could be completely wrong, but it was beautiful to me.
I think there might have been some things lost in translation for this book. The book didn’t read all that beautiful and poetical, but I felt that it would’ve sounded really lovely in its original language.
As for visiting Iran in reality, I think I’d have to pass. Unless there is a time machine that could take me back to before the mid-20th century Islamic revolution. I don’t have any problem with the religion, but that doesn’t mean it would be safer for me as a young American female to travel there especially alone. Besides, I think the country would have been more beautiful before lots of military involvement.