My Father's Notebook: A Novel of Iran

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9780060598723: My Father's Notebook: A Novel of Iran

When he was a boy, Aga Akbar, the deaf-mute illegitimate son of a Persian nobleman, traveled with his uncle to a cave on nearby Saffron Mountain. Once there, he was to copy a three-thousand-year-old cuneiform inscription—an order of the first king of Persia—as a means of freeing himself from his emotional confinement. For the remainder of his life, Aga Akbar used these cuneiform characters to fill a notebook with writings only he could understand. Years later, his son, Ishmael—a political dissident in exile—is attempting to translate the notebook . . . and in the process tells his father's story, his own, and the story of twentieth-century Iran.

A stunning and ambitious novel by a singular literary talent, My Father's Notebook is at once a masterful chronicle of a culture's troubled voyage into modernity and the poignant, timeless tale of a son's enduring love.

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About the Author:

Kader Abdolah is a pen name created to honor friends who died under the oppressive Iranian regime. The author of three novels, two short story collections, and numerous works of nonfiction, Abdolah joined a secret leftist organization while a student in Teheran. In 1988, at the invitation of the United Nations, he came to the Netherlands as a political refugee.

From Publishers Weekly:

The history of Iran in the 20th century glints through the fractured lens of the enigmatic notebook of the deaf-mute carpet mender Aga Akbar in this deeply felt tale. Born to the concubine of a Persian nobleman, Aga Akbar invents a cuneiform language inspired by that of an ancient Persian king in an effort to express himself. Aga Akbar marries the brave but bitter Tina, fathers four children and moves from tiny Saffron Village to the big city. There he finds his carpet-mender's craft replaced by mechanized drudgery, and participates in the religious fervor preceding the revolution led by the imams. Years later, Aga Akbar's son, Ishmael, who narrates most of the novel, partially translates the notebook his father filled with his cuneiform script. Ishmael, who like the author is a political exile in the Netherlands, tries to understand his father, whom he served as translator and guide almost from the day he was born. Though Ishmael feels like an extension of his father, his leftist politics and university education inevitably separate them, emotionally and physically. The narrative is sometimes choppy and overpacked, but Ishmael's complex love for his father and his country and his struggle to do what is right for both proves moving and illuminating
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