Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji

Rooftops of TehranAuthor Mahbod Seraji takes readers onto the “Rooftops of Tehran” and into the hearts of its characters. This gripping debut novel takes place in 1973 during the oppressive rule of the Shah of Iran and especially SAVAK, his arbitrary and extreme security and intelligence service.

The story follows Pasha Shahed and his friends, all of whom are on the brink of adulthood and living fairly happily, even if under the strict Shah regime. Happily, that is, until that very regime claims the life of one of their most respected and beloved friends, Doctor, because he openly opposes the government’s oppression. This incident pulls Pasha and his friends out of innocence and into a greater understanding of their world as it really is.

Iraj – the youngest of the circle of friends, and the one who’s always been the brunt of their jokes – risks his safety when he follows Pasha and his friend Ahmed to the cemetery where their “radical” friend is now buried. He understands that there has been a significant change and recognizes that he, himself, will never be the same.

He says, “I’m not sure what is going on in my heart right now, but I know that something big is happening in there, something that’s trying to pull me inside; you know what I mean? . . . That’s how it happens, isn’t it? I think so. Something happens inside you, and then that’s it.”

Shortly after the death of Doctor, an even bigger and more brutal tragedy occurs – at least for Pasha – and it changes the course of his life forever. This coming of age story that takes place in a locale that continues to this day to deprive young men and women of an innocent childhood will remain in the hearts and minds of readers long after the last page has been turned. The book includes a “conversation” with the author along with a reader’s guide, questions for discussion and a list of books for further reading on Iran.

Penguin; ISBN 978-0-4512-2681-5; $15.
Rooftops of Tehran: Reading Guide

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