Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji

I hear someone's voice chanting, and the repetitive verses lap like water at the edge of my consciousness.

If I had a book, I would read it.
If I had a song, I would sing it.


Title: Rooftops of Tehran
Author: Mahbod Seraji
ISBN: 9780451226815
Publisher: New American Library/2009
Pages: 345


Rooftops of Tehran grabbed me from the first page. It is winter of 1974, and Pasha is in the Roozbeh Psychiatry Hospital, Tehran. He is unaware how he came into being there. From there we see flashes of memory taking us through the events leading to it.

It is based in the midst of the Revolution, where many wanted the Shah to be overthrown. Pasha and Ahmed are two seventeen year olds and are the best of friends. Both are in school. Pasha is intellectually inclined, he reads everything he can. Ahmed is not so much so but he is witty, sarcastic and loves his friend to no end. Both friends are most of the time on the rooftop of Pasha's house even sleeping there some times, which Pasha's mother does not like.

Ahmed is in love with Faheemeh and Pasha with the beautiful Zari, who is engaged to another man, whom all know as Doctor. Pasha feels guilty but can't help falling in love with her. Slowly a rich bond develops betweem them. However, Pasha knows as soon as Doctor comes back, Zari will be married off to him. He does not reveal his feelings for her. One night everything blows up. Shah's secret police catches hold of Doctor, which Pasha thinks is his fault. It ends in tragedy. Suddenly Pasha, Ahmed question their very existence. Zari mourns in her own way and takes such a decision which shatters Pasha completely. He ends up in hospital. When he gets back, he finds Zari gone...

Rooftops in Tehran is a very well written book with well etched out characters. Pasha, Ahmed, Faheemeh, Zari, Doctor, Iraj are all well brought out. Pasha, Ahmed, Iraj are like any teenager in any place. This book covers a very important period of Iran but it is in no way a heavy read. There is wit and humour which carries it forward with ease. And I must mention, the wit does not lighten the book or takes away from it. It only enhances the seriousness of it.

Iran is a much misunderstood country. One of my friends was living there when the Shah was overthrown. She still has good memories of the people. Politics aside, people are same or similar everywhere. Fairly recently another of my friends stayed in Tehran for 3 years. She too recalls its people fondly. In no way the country is regressive as most assume. I think we need to keep our eyes and years open, and must not believe all that the so called world leaders say. Reading books on the country would help us understanding the people, the culture and its ethos. I say if for any country, not Iran.

Reading the novel also enhances our knowledge about the age-old Persian culture. I would recommend this book to all those who want to explore a new country, its culture, ethos, people....

Thanks Mahbod Seraji, for sending me this book. It is one of my best reads of 2009.

Also reviewed by:

Book Chase

15 comments:

The Book Resort said...

Sounds interesting. Great review.

Teddy Rose said...

Great review!This is a book that has caught my interest. I've added it to my TBR.

farmlanebooks said...

You've convinced me to add it to my wish list. Thank you!

violetcrush said...

Best book of 2009? I am glad the book is as good as I thought it would be. And you are so right, people are similar everywhere. We shouldn't let our views and opinions be biased because of what is portrayed on the news channels.

Meghan said...

This book sounds really good. Thanks for the review! I'll have to check it out.

Jo-Jo said...

I have definitely been wondering about this book, and I think your review sold it for me. I just love reading books that bring me to another time and culture. Thanks for the review!

bermudaonion said...

I was in college when a lot of that was going on, so I wasn't really aware of most of it. I'd like to read this to learn more about it.

Scrap girl said...

You have won me over with your review. I shall add it to my TBR list.

Sam Sattler said...

Well done review of a book that I really enjoyed. It's one of my favorites of the year so far, in fact.

Also, thanks for the link back to my review.

Sam

Anna said...

I like reading about different cultures, so I think I'd enjoy this one. Thanks for the recommendation.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I agree. I finished this one last week, but haven't reviewed it yet.

It was excellent.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

One of your favorite books of the year - I'll have to look for this one!

I love a work of fiction that can help me learn about the culture of another time or place. You make a good point, that "people are people", we have common ground no matter our background.

Nan said...

This sounds like a great book. Loved reading your review.

Melody said...

This book is already onto my wishlist!! Thanks for the lovely review!

S. Krishna said...

I'm really glad you enjoyed this one because I have it to review!