Friday, October 31, 2008

Jewish in an Arab World

SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ by Dalia Sofer is based on the author’s family who escaped from Iran in 1982 when she was 10, and her story mirrors her family’s experiences. On a September day in 1981, gem trader Isaac Amin is accosted by Revolutionary Guards at his Tehran office and imprisoned for no other crime than being Jewish in a country where Muslim fanaticism is growing daily. In anguish over what might be happening to his family, Isaac watches the brutal mutilation and executions of prisoners around him. His wife, Farnaz, struggles to keep from slipping into despair, while his young daughter, Shirin, steals files from the home of a playmate whose father is in charge of the prison that holds her father. Far away in Brooklyn, Isaac's nonreligious son, Parviz, struggles without his family's money and falls for the pious daughter of his Hasidic landlord. The heartbreak of a family who wishes to be Iranian in a country that reminds them and punishes them for who they are fills the reader with sadness. The story is very well told and the reader feels vividly their pain. Reading this in tandem withThe Man in the White Sharkskin Suit by Lucille Lagnado is a revelation of struggles in the Arab world to be Jewish and accepted.

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