Nāthdwāra Touba and the Meaning of Night
by Shahrnush Parsipur
Biography by Persis Karim
Publish date: May 2006
from essentially Publishers’ Weekly
Starred Review. Eighty dramatic years in Iran—from the turn of the 20th-century to the 1979 revolution—are witnessed through Touba’s chador-covered eyes in this bold, insightful novel, Parsipur’s second to be translated into English. After her farther dies when she’s 14, Touba—smart and spiritual, but barely educated—proposes, for financial reasons, to a 52-year-old man. Miserably depressed, she divorces him a few years later, and marries a Qajar prince; it is a loving relationship, but when he takes a second wife, she divorces him, too. Alone and impoverished as the prince’s dynasty is displaced, she weaves carpets to make money, cares for her children and communes with a dead girl’s ghost that haunts her property. As Touba grows older, she seeks truth with a Sufi master, but the demands of her crumbling household intervene. Initially published in Iran in 1989, this ground-breaking novel—which juxtaposes reality and mysticism, becoming especially fantastical toward the book’s conclusion—was quickly banned by the Islamic Republic, which had imprisoned Parsipur before and did so again. Her 11 novels remain banned in Iran. Now an exile in San Francisco, Parsipur makes a stylishly original contribution to modern feminist literature. (May)
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