Lost in Tehran
By CLAIRE MESSUD
Published: August 5, 2007
A memorable title will surely attract readers, but when a book becomes a classic, it’s hard to say whether the title has been part of its canonization or has merely become retroactively canonical. Would “Trimalchio in West Egg,” one of Fitzgerald’s initial choices, have in time accrued the same force as “The Great Gatsby”? “The Septembers of Shiraz,” poignant once you’ve read this first novel by Dalia Sofer, is, on its own, a title at once overly poetic and misleading. An American reader might be forgiven for thinking Sofer has written a romance set in the Napa Valley, “Sideways” with Vaseline on the lens. And that would be a great shame because “The Septembers of Shiraz” is a remarkable debut: the richly evocative, powerfully affecting depiction of a prosperous Jewish family in Tehran shortly after the revolution. In this fickle literary world, it’s impossible to predict whether Sofer’s novel will become a classic, but it certainly stands a chance.
Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. $24.95.Photo: Dalia Sofer by Shahrzad Elghana