10-18-2007 10:32 PM
We've had a low-key group, and I don't want to miss the chance to explore what I think is a really wonderful novel, so I thought maybe we could muse a little about our overall impressions of the book?
One of my strongest impressions was of how clean, sophisticated, and unsentimental the writing itself was throughout the book. I don't mean to imply that it was "cool" because I think the characters were treated with tenderness. I felt this even about Morteza, even Mohsen, somehow.
But I often felt I wanted to ask questions like 'How do you write a novel in which a man is tortured without the novel being ABOUT the torture?' or 'How do you write about the character flaws of a person who is suffering unjustly?' or 'How imply that any good or loving quality might exist in a man who condones or conducts torture?' There must have been constant questions about what to describe, how much, and in what light--not to imply that such questions aren't present in every act of writing, but in this novel human frailty and human cruelty seem bound together on every page, yet I never felt that my own sense of outrage or shock was being manipulated--does that make sense?
Strangely, a novel that has come to mind for me while I was thinking of this one, was not another novel set in the Middle East or during war, but was "Bee Season," by Myla Goldberg, which has almost nothing in common with this one, except that it does have the mother/father/sister/brother structure of a family that is unraveling--and with the young girl of the story being close to the same age as Shirin. But that family's sanity comes undone from within, while this family's connections and fault lines are exposed and torn at by a brutal external force. But both novels gave me this sense that they had been built by absolute necessity. It's one of the reasons I really liked the image of jewels in this novel, a creation that is both beautiful and elemental.
Did you have an overall impression of the writing, or were you more wrapped up in the story itself? Did you think of other novels in comparison while you were reading?
10-24-2007 09:17 AM
As mentioned elsewhere, the physical attributes of the book were unique. The book physically stands out among others.
The writing style is simple and no nonsense, yet poetic too.
I was reminded of A Thousand Splendid Suns because of the physical torture, I think.
I still need to read Bee Season, Rachel. I remember you mentioning it in another discussion. I have a copy, now just to actually read it.
Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
03-14-2008 10:01 PM - edited 03-14-2008 10:02 PM
Message Edited by WildCityWoman on 03-14-2008 10:02 PM