A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri.
A complex and beautifully written book that brings to life Iran after the revolution. I loved how the characters are gradually revealed, and the story unfolds.
There are portions of the book that are heart-breaking, and difficult to read. Some parts had me feeling anxious with worry for the main character – it’s not that often that I get so invested in a character that I find myself almost dreading reading more, for fear of what might happen.
My favorite aspect of the book is the setting, and how essential it is to the story itself. This is not a book that could be picked up and relocated with no real change to the book – the setting is integral to the tale. Nayeri does a fantastic job of bringing an unfamiliar area to life, and makes me want to explore some of the food and other literature from Iran, especially the Caspian Sea region.
I wasn’t completely crazy about some of the story-within-a-story aspects, but that’s a minor complaint. Overall I loved the book, and am really glad that I read it. Highly recommended.
A magical novel about a young Iranian woman lifted from grief by her powerful imagination and love of Western culture.
Growing up in a small rice-farming village in 1980s Iran, eleven-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister, Mahtab, are captivated by America. They keep lists of English words and collect illegal Life magazines, television shows, and rock music. So when her mother and sister disappear, leaving Saba and her father alone in Iran, Saba is certain that they have moved to America without her. But her parents have taught her that “all fate is written in the blood,” and that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea. As she grows up in the warmth and community of her local village, falls in and out of love, and struggles with the limited possibilities in post-revolutionary Iran, Saba envisions that there is another way for her story to unfold. Somewhere, it must be that her sister is living the Western version of this life. And where Saba’s world has all the grit and brutality of real life under the new Islamic regime, her sister’s experience gives her a freedom and control that Saba can only dream of.
Filled with a colorful cast of characters and presented in a bewitching voice that mingles the rhythms of Eastern storytelling with modern Western prose, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is a tale about memory and the importance of controlling one’s own fate.
Title: A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea
Author: Dina Nayeri
My Rating: 4 Stars
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