Magazine article World Literature Today

The Gardens of Consolation

Magazine article World Literature Today

The Gardens of Consolation

Article excerpt

Parisa Reza. The Gardens of Consolation. Trans. Adriana Hunter. New York. Europa Editions. 2016. 259 pages.

Parisa Reza's novel The Gardens of Consolation takes us into the lives of an Iranian couple, Sardar and Talla, from their youth to their middle ages, later shifting its focus to their only son, Bahram. The story travels from rural Iran to its capital on a tapestry that stretches from 1910 to 1953, the year the US and UK-backed coup detat toppled Prime Minister Mosaddegh from power, hindering the democratic movements of Iranian society.

The book opens with the twelve-yearold Talla and the twenty-year-old Sardar, married three years prior, leaving the village where "at the gates of hell and the source of Paradise, blooms Mohamed's flower," where the best rosewater in the country is produced. They travel through the desert all the way to Varamin, south of Tehran, where Sardar has already bought some livestock to make his living.

The book is divided into five chapters. The first chapter focuses more on Talla's life in the village while she waits for Sardar to come back from Tehran and fetch her. The second is the story of the couple as they build their lives in Varamin and later in Shemiran and try to have a child. The remainder are focused more on Bahrams life story; from a son of "peasants" to a young man accepted to university, trying "to distance himself from his background," getting involved with political parties, and trying to figure out his relationships with women.

To tell the story of the Amir family, Reza chooses a style and tone that reminds one of a fairy tale. Reading The Gardens of Consolation feels like being on a flying carpet with your grandmother and listening to her telling you, in a nonchalant dreamy tone, a bedtime story about once upon a time in a fantasy world. …

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