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Archive for the ‘fiction’ Category

Septembers of Shivaz

September Of Shivaz is one of the Hadassah picks for 2008-2009.

Here as listed in the facilitator book club book:
In 1982, 10 yr old Dalia Sofer and her family emigrated from Iran to the US.  Having survived the 1979 Iranian revolution together.

They then endured the incarceration of Sofer’s father, falsely accused of being a Zioinist spy, in a Tehran prison. In the Septembers of Shivaz, Sofer recreates the resounding effects of the patriach’s political isolation and torture on each member of the family.

Issac Amin a Jewish gem dealer in Tehran, finds himself wrongly accused of anti-government activity after the fall of the shah of Iran. Dragged from his workplace by armed enforcers, he is imprisoned and beaten for confessions he cannot offer his captors.   As Issac witnesses the slow and steady demise of his fellow inmates, he begins to contemplate his choices, his relationships with his wife and children, and the role his religion has played in his life.

Issac’s wife Farnaz, terrifies but resolute, attempts to salvage her husband’s reputation while trying to shelter their 9- yr. old daughter Shiran from the atrocities and betrayals that are taking place around them daily. Friends have become foes, strangers offer themselves as allies.  And Farnaz must continually weigh the dangers of trusting even those closest to her in her husband’s absence. The Amin’s 18 yr. old son  Parviz, who lives in NYC, struggles with his own isolation while quietly enduring his father’s pain from afar.

After painting a moving portrait of a family in distress set against the devastintg background of a country in flux, The Sept. of Shivaz  explores the universal questions regarding identity, loss, aleination, faith, loyalty, and love in the face of overwhelming odds. The Amin family must reconsile the people that were, and the people that they must become, with the Iran that was.

This book is one of the selections for Hadassah’s Turn The Page Book Club.

I can’t say I enjoyed reading this book because it was not a happy story.

I did like reading the book,especially the the culture of Iran during the revolution in the 1970’s.

The book did not make me feel like I was reading a Jewish book.  There was not many references to anything Jewish. Granted, this did not take place in the US or Europe where the Askenasis Jews live.  But there asn’t anything that made you feel like you were reading anything Jewish.  What does make a book Jewish??

The traditons are spoken about, the objects,that make the traditions, yiddishkeit.  There were a couple references I did like reading this book, it was not a real light summer read but it was not literal either.

It was hard to take when Issac was in prison and they whipped the soles of his feet.  I sure prison life was much worse that what was portrayed in the book.

His poor wife who lived everyday worrying about Issac.  And had to keep going for her daughter.  Issac’s brother who was boot legging liquor.  What a joke it is illegal in Iran to drink but when his daughter went over her friends house and found liqour in the celler.  What a contradiction.  In the Jewish religion, we don’t believe in going overboard but everything is in moderation.  She decides that she must help her brother in law because Issac will never forgive her if she doesn’t help him.  That was commendable.

Their Son Parviz, that was living in Brooklyn, was very depressed because of his situation living outside of Iran without his family.  I am not sure why he left Iran to come to the states.  But the only reference to anything that is Jewish was that Parvis was getting close to a hasidic girl.  The father and the end of the book told him don’t expect her to marrying you.  You are not a observant Jew and I can’t allow it. You will sway her away.  And the children will become watered down Jews.

There are some references that I liked . Shiran says, I am foolish, she thinks. I am 9 yrs.old Do I deserve to reach 10? I have one friend , but as of today  I am more afraid of her then of anyone else. All my good friends have gone. I have not seen my brother for 2 yrs. and I am starting to forget his face. My father too is becoming faceless.  This statement is very poetic.  It is very sad at a very young age that she feels this way.

I can’t imagine what life was like for a little girl in Iran.  What is was like for her mother.  Worrying about your husband.  Was he going to be all right.  Or would he be returned dead.  How does a family endure this.

A son, in the US to worry about the family. That must be hard not to know what is going on.

Shiran, stole some documents from her friends father and snuck them out of her house.  The documents were files of men that the government was out to arrest.  Her uncle was one of them.  She realized that if she is caught it would be the end of her family.  When they were searching the house.  I did not get it till later that she had hidden the file and buried them.  The police that were searching the house made a big deal about the mud on her shoes.  I did not realize what that was about till later on in the book.  That she hid the files.

Parvis and Rachel at the park.  This is where they talk about how they are so different.  And where he realizes that they are very different and there is nothing that can change that.

” I suppose hot dogs are against the rules.” he laughs that all that we can get at the park.

For me, they are. But no one said they should be against your rules, if you don’t want it to be.  I brought some fruit to hold me over.

They walk to a nearby kiosk.  As the vendor prepares his hot dog and she reaches into her bag for her fruit, he is reminded of the divide between them. He doesn’t want to slip into her secure but strigent world, nor does he expect her to slip into his.

This I think is where they get the title of the book.  September, the young one says ” In the summertime traffic is high because of the warmer weather. But the chances of getting caught are higher as well. In September the traffic is lighter but the weather is tolerable.

The reference is when the decide they are going to cross the border and leave Iran. Not knowing if the people you are paying is going to be trustworthy or not.

That must have been hard for the family because the parents were still in Iran.  How can you leave your family knowing that you may never see them again. I can’t imagine leaving family that you love behind.  The parents were too old to make the trip.

” Unless you are willing to live a life of Hassidus of observing orthodox practices. My Rachel looking across the room with sad worried eyes. Is already confused. She has her heart in both worlds here and outside.  I don’t want to introduce temptations to her.

But shouldn’t she be the one to decide Parviz says, trying to temper the nervousness in his voice. You can’t force spirituality on someone.

I look at myself not as a individual but as a piece of the whole , as abick in the house. A few broken bricks and the whole house falls down. I may have sacrificed a temporary happiness, but look what I have accomplshed.

This is what a Jew believes that is it not just one person but the whole.

On the whole I did like the story. The book talks about family in crisis how they all deal with their father being in jail in different ways.  They don’t even trust the housekeeper which they find out at the end she could be trusted.  It’s the other people they can’t trust. Issac’s employees steal right under his nose while he is in jail.   Who does the mother trust. The people she trusts are not the people she thought she knew.

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