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A Persian Requiem by Simin Daneshvar
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A Persian Requiem (1969)

by Simin Daneshvar

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"A Persian Requiem tells the powerful and moving story of Zari, an anxious,
tradition-bound woman and mother of three young children, who is caught up in
the political violence that swept Iran during World War II. When her husband, a
feudal landowner who is determined not to compromise his principles or his
politics, decides to keep his grain to feed the peasants on his estates,
instead of selling it to the British army, violence erupts. Zari then finds
within herself the unexpected strength to resist oppression. Beautifully
crafted, this complex and ironic novel offers unique insights into Iran's
culture and rituals, as it unfolds the dramatic story of a woman's courageous
struggle." --back cover
  collectionmcc | Mar 6, 2018 |
I found [A Persian Requiem] a fascinating glimpse of life in occupied Iran during World War II. Told primarily from the view of Zari, it tells the story of what occurs when her husband, Yusef, continues his resistance to selling his crops to the British army for the third year in a row, trying to keep back enough for the peasants who work the land to eat. Yusef’s brother, Abol-Ghassem Kahn, takes a more pragmatic view, hoping that in cooperating with the British he may earn a place in the governing classes (and a chance to increase his wealth), while protecting his family at the same time. The situation is further complicated by the request two friends of Yusef from a nomadic tribe make for him to sell them food for their people.

In my reading, Zari understands and agrees with her husband’s argument that Persia should be governed by Persians, but I think she has a clearer sight than Yusef of the consequences of not cooperating. She yearns for the safety of her household over and above what might be morally/ethically “right,” as might many of us in a situation where choosing a larger good may inflict suffering in the immediate future on those close to us.

The story has added depth for those who have some familiarity with the story of Seyavash/Siyavash in Ferdowsi’s epic poem, the Shanameh, and I’m sure this contributed to its being a bestseller in Iran. I did find that many of the secondary characters in the story seemed rather one-sided. However, the family – Zari, her husband, brother-in-law & sister-in law and her son Khosrow - and the conflicts Zari finds herself facing were depicted well. ( )
1 vote markon | Apr 4, 2014 |
Persian upper class extended family in the 1940's mixes and conflicts with the colonial Governor, and all the colonial hanger on characters you care to have. This family has lots of uncles and aunts and cousins, and servants, and horses, and villagers to supervise. Brothers have different ideas of how to live under British occupation, and what societal responsibilities come with their privileged class. Part India, part colonial-anywhere, and part oil-rich southwestern Iran during a famine with tribal fighters running arms, there is a core love story that is sweet. I found the women characters pleasant, but so upper class polite, and wimpy weak, except in the case of one evil old girl who was more ham-handed and brutish than clever. Overall I felt the sense of family strife in the face of war and colonialism, brother against brother, the evils of ocupation, and the remnants of feudalism in the 1940's in Iran.
  grheault | Aug 26, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0934211310, Paperback)

â??A very engaging saga...â?? â??Washington Post Book World â??A powerfully resonant work...â?? â??Publishers Weekly â??Outstanding foreign fiction...â?? â??USA Today Savushun (pronounced â??sa-voo-shoonâ??) is a folk tradition, surviving in Southern Iran from an undateable pre-islamic past, that conjures hope in spite of everything. The novel chronicles the life of a Persian family during the World War II Allied occupation of Iran. It is set in Shiraz, a town which evokes images of Persepolis and pre-islamic monuments, the great Persian poets, the shrines, sufis and nomadic tribes all within a historical web of the interests, privilege and influence of foreign powers, corruption, incompetence and arrogance of persons in authority. The story is seen through the eyes of Zari, a young wife, and mother, who copes with her idealistic husband while struggling with her desire for traditional family life and her need for an individual identity. simin daneshvar lives and continues to write in Iran.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:50 -0400)

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