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The Luminous Heart of Jonah S. by Gina B.…

The Luminous Heart of Jonah S.

by Gina B. Nahai

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The writing was beautiful, it was interesting to read about Iranian Jews (in my ignorance, I didn't even know there were such people!), and the level of magical realism was minimal enough that I could stomach it. I was intrigued by the characters and wanted to see where it was all leading up to, and to find out who Jonah S. was!

In the end, though, the conclusion of the story didn't do anything for me--it did nothing to tie together all the beautifully complex threads that had been laid out. The jumping between multiple time periods was disconcerting for me, and I didn't 'get' any of the characters or see/feel their development.

In sum, I did enjoy reading it because of the beautiful prose, but it was a big disappointment as a story. Most unfortunate. ( )
  emanate28 | Jul 27, 2015 |
Gina B. Najai uses magical realism to create a multigenerational story of an Iranian Jewish family both in Iran and United States. I do not want to define magical realism but would rather you experience it. It begins as a murder mystery where almost everyone is a suspect because of the bad character of the victim. It creates the strange world of being Iranian and fitting more when the Shah was in power and being a easy target of hatred when he fell.

Fable, myth and tradition tell the story with rich detail. It is a story of greed, customs and culture that once worked in Iran but not in Los Angeles. It is the world where people who once had professional lives in Iran end up stocking grocery store shelves because of the inability to qualify professionally in a strange land.

This book is totally engrossing and one of the most fascinating parts was that with family prestige and tradition being so important in the Iranian Jewish community that it was still carried over and effected their lives so much when they settled in the United States. The family’s reputation was all important and without that you condemned to be lost. As with most immigrant groups, this group sought out those with the same language and culture and bonded together in sort of a defense against the outside. But this book goes into depth the whys and hows of this and brings about so much more understanding.

My only negative criticism is that there were a little too many characters to keep up with and I got a little lost at times. But this book as a whole was a feast of the customs, backgrounds and myths of the Iranian Jews.

I highly recommend reading it. If some of it seems a bit fantastic, just let yourself go and imagine the people with their strange luminescence and smells and enjoy!

I received this Advanced Reading Copy from the publishers as a win from FirstRead but the thoughts and feelings in my review are my own. ( )
  Carolee888 | Jul 7, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was an Early Reviewers win from Library Thing.

The author of this book is a very skilled writer, and the writing is what kept me reading. I did learn a few things, as I knew almost nothing about Iranian Jews. This story begins in Iran, and then continues in Los Angeles, where apparently many Iranian Jews now live. There are so many characters, and I had trouble keeping them straight. I kept hoping I would feel more engaged with some of the characters, and while I did feel some sympathy for the main characters, and dislike for others, I couldn't care a whole lot for what was happening. ( )
  jhoaglin | Mar 28, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Luminous Heart of Jonah S., by Gina B. Nahai, is a family saga unlike any other I have ever read. The Soleyman's are Iranian Jews who experience tragedy and great sorrow. Descendants move to Los Angeles and try to adapt to an often mysterious and confusing culture. Even though they are thousands of miles from their homeland, much of what they tried to escape has followed them to California. This is an eloquently told story about fascinating people. Using impeccable detail, the saga is told alternately between Iran and present day Los Angeles. By writing with wit, wisdom and insight the author has crafted a marvelous story and I highly recommend reading this very special book.
I received this book for free through Library Thing and I give this review of my own free will. ( )
  SAMANTHA100 | Feb 8, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Luminous Heart of Jonah S is a tale to be savored. This novel follows the Iranian Jewish family and their immigration to California. Along the way the author weaves mystical notes, biblical betrayals, and poignant love stories into a beautiful story.
Every character has a rich background that is introduced to readers at exactly the right time, albeit sometimes in a round about way. The connections between the family members is never straight forward lending a subtle taste of mystery to the novel. I especially loved Elizabeth, an independent woman who carries the smell of the sea with her where ever she goes. It was amazing to contrast the way Elizabeth handle hardships with the way her nephew(?), Raphael's Son, did. Many authors would try to make this contrast into a lesson. Instead, there is no judgement placed on either approach to dealing with life by the author. One could certainly argue that the lesson is to be gracious, persistent, and generous, but that isn't the point of the story. Both sides of the family win and loose important things. Ultimately, the family line continues together. That is the important thing.
I don't want to spoil the novel by giving to many details out. The novel does a splendid job of revealing all the details and connections at the perfect pace. It's like the perfect stripe tease till the end!
I think this is a wonderful novel and highly recommend it. ( )
  EsotericMoment | Dec 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
AT THE HEART of Gina Nahai’s sweeping, multigenerational novel The Luminous Heart of Jonah S. — which chronicles a longstanding feud in the Soleyman family that begins in Tehran in the 1950s and is carried over to present-day Los Angeles — lies the importance of names. “A name, after all,” we are told, “defined not only the person, but dozens of generations of his grandchildren as well. It determined a family’s status, occupation, and the limits of their aspirations.” So it is no wonder that a name is claimed, coveted, revered, envied, and, when contested, reason enough for bloodshed.
added by ozzer | editLA Times, Dalia Sofer (Sep 27, 2014)
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