Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Some families, I have learned, are stranger than others."

Gina B. Nahai finally seems to be finding an American audience for her work; perhaps our esteemed president's war on terrorism (or his seeming declaration of war on most of the rest of the world which doesn't appreciate his cowboy politics) has awakened us to what was a number of years ago "of little interest." Caspian Rain provides us with a portrait of Yaas's parents' rather unhappy marriage and her own upbringing within it.

Yaas's mother, Bahar, grew up with her seamstress-wannabe-mother; cantor-wannabe-father; opera-singer-wannabe; Islamic convert brother; younger brother (who happens to be a ghost); unmarried older sister; and her other older sister who is married to an abusive psychoanalyst in the poor Jewish section of Tehran. Bahar knows she is always destined for something greater than her circumstance and she finds it when she literally stumbles into the path of Omid Arbab's limousine, recently broken up with his fiance and looking for someone a little more mailable.

Although it is told in the third person, Caspian Rain, often switches points of view between her parents' to Yaas's. Although never quite reaching the level of melancholy or high tragedy, it is not very light or entirely uplifting reading (though it is highly readable and very beautiful. Somewhat bittersweet.

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