Monday, May 25, 2009

Rooftops of Tehran


I tried to write my review for this novel as soon as I finished reading; however, I was unable to do so. Whether it was from writer's block or from fear of writing an inadequate review, I do not know. I am leaning toward the latter. I considered stringing together a set of adjectives: brilliant, funny, original, haunting. Although they could all be used to describe this novel, it would not have been enough. Instead, I started off with the following: Rooftops of Tehran, a debut novel by Mahbod Seraji, is a wonderfully written coming of age story of young love. After that I just stared at the page for quite some time and gave up. How could I do justice to Mr. Seraji's masterful prose?

From the rooftop of his home, Pasha and his friends talk about life - sharing their dreams, hopes, and fears. But where are the rooftops? New York, London, Paris. Could be but, no, they are in Iran. Not a place nor a people that most Westerners know much about. Through his vivid characterizations and descriptions, Mr. Seraji is able to transport us to Iran and give us a glimpse into this ancient world. I could clearly picture the homes, alleyways, streets and rooftops. He breathed so much life into these characters that they will not be forgotten. I laughed when Pasha's father was unwittingly the perpetrator in ding dong ditch. I felt compassion for Grandma and was awed that the entire neighborhood looked after her – not something that is commonplace here in America. I felt for the characters when tragedy struck and I rooted for them in their moments of rebellion. In short, his characters had That – they had honor, treasured friendship, prized love, had courage and strength to stand up for what they believed in.

Rooftops of Tehran is much more than a love story. It is a an affirmation of shared human experiences. We all dream, love, laugh and cry. We have fears and and want good things for our children. Mr. Seraji has given us a glimpse into the unknown and it is up to us to recognize that regardless of religion or culture we are more alike than some would like us to believe.

At times, this novel is funny and at other times tragic. It is certainly unforgettable. I highly recommend to those wishing to broaden their horizons and learn more about the Persian people and culture. Mahbod Seraji is an author to watch. I know I will be looking and waiting for his next novel.

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