Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith

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9780671042837: Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith
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When she is five years old, Lili, the narrator of this epic and magical tale, watches her mother, Roxanna the Angel, throw herself off the balcony of their house on the Avenue of Faith. Roxanna has left no farewell, no explanation. Her family's subsequent search for her reveals no body. no sign of a fall, no trace of an escape. The only witness to Roxanna's disappearance, Lili will spend the next thirteen years looking for her mother, wondering if she is alive, wondering why she left. This is the remarkable tale that follows Roxanna, born as a "bad-luck child" in the Jewish ghetto of Tehran, through the opulent world of Iran's aristocracy, into the whorehouses of Turkey and at last, to Los Angeles -- the city of exiles -- where she and Lili arc reunited. Gina B. Nahai tells the story of a courageous circle of women standing on the edge of the past, reshaping their lives in America, the land of chances and choices.

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Review:

The first voice we hear in Gina B. Nahai's second novel is that of Lili, the grown daughter of a miraculous mother. When Lili was 5 and living in the Jewish ghetto of Tehran, her mother, Roxanna, "had grown wings, one night when the darkness was the color of her dreams, and flown into the star-studded night of Iran that claimed her." Thirteen years would pass, Lili informs us, before she would find her mother again. This short introduction serves as a framing device for the story of Roxanna's life, a life begun as a "bad-luck" child. According to her sister, Miriam the Moon, she "had been a runaway before she ever became a wife or a mother, before she came into existence or was even conceived."

There is an unwritten rule that any book featuring such character names as Roxanna the Angel, Miriam the Moon, and Alexandra the Cat must also contain a great deal of magical realism; Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith lives up to expectations. In addition to Roxanna's winged departure from her home and family, there are episodes involving illuminated sunflowers, dreams of flight that result in beds of white feathers, and Roxanna's final illness, a "mysterious fluid that ... started to fill her body like a poisonous presence, that oozed out of the corner of her eyes, swelled her arms and legs till she had no more use of them and turned her once-magical voice into a gurgling whisper." Besides the miraculous, this novel has undeniable sweep, beginning in Tehran, touching down in Turkey, and ending up in Los Angeles many years later with hair-raising adventures punctuating each change of address. Gina B. Nahai has crafted a lyrical novel reminiscent of the work of Isabelle Allende. Readers with a taste for the fantastic will enjoy this tale. --Alix Wilber

About the Author:

Gina B. Nahai, born in Iran and educated in Switzerland and the United States, is the author of the award-winning novel Cry of the Peacock. A frequent lecturer on Iranian Jewish history and the topic of exile, she has studied the politics of Iran for the U.S. Department of Defense. Currently teaching fiction writing at the University of Southern California's Master of Professional Writing program, Ms. Nahai lives with her family in Los Angeles.

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