Aug 18, 2009

Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji

Mahbod Seraji's debut novel Rooftops of Tehran is a beautifully crafted journey set in Tehran, Iran, during the tumultuous 1970s. Pasha Shahed is a teenage boy who in the summer before his last year of high school faces the reality of his homeland, the despair of irrevocable change, and his first love.

With the secret police, the SAVAK, on their heels, Pasha and his friends must be careful how they act in public. Interspersing the narrative with chapters in the present and chapters in the past creates a palpable tension, and readers will speed through the pages to uncover the mystery of how Pasha ends up in a mental institution.

"'And your star guides you when you're in trouble, right?'

'Your star and the stars of the people you love.'

Ahmed closes one eye and lifts his thumb to block out one of the brighter stars. 'I'm tired of looking at your big fat face.'" (Page 4)

Pasha and his friend Ahmed spend many nights on the rooftops discussing school, love, and life, but their simple lives soon become complicated. Ahmed declares his love for Faheemeh even though she is betrothed to another, and Pasha holds his secret love for his neighbor and friend's fiancee, Zari, close to his heart. "Doctor" and Pasha have a genuine intellectual relationship, but the underlying tension stemming from Pasha's secret love for Doctor's fiancee Zari, lingers behind the surface.

"In order to cure my introversion, she insists I drink a dusky concoction that looks and smells like used motor oil. I complain that her remedy tastes horrible, and she tells me to be quiet and stop whining." (Page 9)

"We'll have chelo Kebob--a skewer of ground beef mixed with onions and domestic Persian herbs, and a skewer of filet, served over basmati rice that has been prepared with butter, the savory Persian herb somagh, and baked tomatoes." (Page 244)

Seraji paints a clear picture of Iran's people and the culture that dictates its people survive even the worst situations possible. Pasha is a strong character in spite of his doubt, but like any young person feels personally responsible for the major events in his life even if he was powerless to stop them. From the Iranian dishes to the crowded neighborhoods, readers will fall into Tehran and walk the streets with Pasha and his friends. The tyrannical government's actions and dispensation of justice are infuriating and crushing, but in the midst of these heartaches, readers will laugh as Pasha and Ahmed poke fun at one another and Pasha regains hope.

"'Deep in each knot of a Persian rug is a statement of the hands that patiently drove the needle and the thread,' I once heard my father say." (Page 165)

Seraji deftly creates memorable characters whose lives become fraught with tension and possible death. Readers are likely to become heavily invested emotionally in Pasha's life, cheering him on, crying alongside him in his grief, and hoping that he will regain his center. Rooftops of Tehran is witty and emotionally charged; a novel that will leave readers wanting more of Pasha and his family and friends. This debut novel reads like a well-polished epic.

Rooftops of Tehran has made it to my growing list of top books for 2009; I was so emotionally involved that I found myself weeping on more than one occasion.

Also Reviewed By:
S. Krishna's Books

Now, I have one copy to giveaway to my readers; the giveaway is open internationally.

All you need to leave a comment for one entry, and additional entries for tweeting the giveaway, blogging about it, or spreading the word in other ways.

Deadline is August 24, 2009 at 11:59 PM



77 comments:

Amanda said...

This book looks so good. I saw it awhile back on Goodreads but I think this is the first review I've read. That passage about the kabobs made me hungry!! :)

I'd love to be entered for the contest. My address is amandagignac[at]gmail[dot]com

Veens said...

Wow! Sounds really good. Al the quotes you mention sound so good!

I will have this posted on my sidebar! please do enter me for this one! Thank you!

Melody said...

I've this book in my pile, and I really look forward to reading it after reading your review!

Mystica said...

I love the sound of this book. I do wish I could win!


Mystica


mystica123athotmaildotcom

Serena said...

Amanda: I really loved this book.

Veens: there were so many quotes I wanted to include, but figured everyone should just read this book.

Melody: I hope you read it soon. There is so much to discuss.

Mystica: you're entered...cross your fingers.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I have been wanting this book for some time! Please enter me!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Anna said...

Wow! It must be good if it made you cry. I'll be posting the giveaway in my sidebar.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Lezlie said...

This book looks excellent! No need to put me in the drawing, I just wanted to say hello! :-)

Lezlie

Jo-Jo said...

This book caught my eye a couple of months ago because I just love reading books that are set in other cultures. Now after your review I REALLY need to read it.
Please enter me Serena.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

stacybuckeye said...

If it made you cry more than once it must be good.
stacybooks at yahoo

Shweta said...

If it is this good i would want to read it. Your review was really interesting.

I would love to enter this giveaway.

I have posted it on my side bar.
shwetavnadigATrediffmailDOTcom

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like a powerfully moving book. Please enter me. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

Blodeuedd said...

Nice review, I had to come and check it out because there was something about that cover. Sounds like a good book, I am in

blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

Andreea said...

I've never heard of this book, but I must say that it does sound interesting. Thanks for this great review!

Sue said...

This looks SO good! Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

softdrink said...

Don't enter me, since I have it. I still haven't picked it back up after my weak start, but your review gives me hope!

violetcrush said...

Ohhh...this book is on my wishlist. Please enter me too.

I have posted it on my sidebar, hope that's okay. Lovely quotes too.

Melanie said...

Wow, you've made me want to read it. I like books that are told from the present and you have to read to find out why and how the narrator ended up the way they did.

Care said...

Weeping, huh? As soon as I need another weepfest - which I love, don't get me wrong! I'll tbr it. :)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, darling. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. And the review; you've piqued my interest.

I've posted about this at Win a Book for you.

wheresmyrain said...

been hearing nothing but good stuff about this book. love to read it

wheresmyrain(at)yahoo(dot)com

Ramya said...

I love love iranian english literature.. this sounds like a really nice book and i definitely want to read it..:) I'm going to wait and see if i win this from you.. If i don't I'm going to go ahead and get myself a copy..(along with a box if tissues!)

avalonne83 said...

Please enter me in the contest. Thanks.

avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

J.T. Oldfield said...

Oooh, this looks good! Please enter me, and I'm going to Tweet about it right now (@bibliofreakblog).

j.t.oldfield[AT]gmail.com

Jake Lsewhere said...

Looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

Beverly said...

This book looks very interesting.

beachlover20855[AT]yahoo[DOT]com

Brenda said...

This book sounds great. Please include me in the drawing!

dancealert (at) aol (dot) com.

minishoes1 said...

This sounds like a fantastic book! Count me in! Thanks! jacquecurl1@gmail.com

Diane said...

I would LOVE to win a copy of this one; sounds amazing & the cover is so nice.

dd DOT bookgoddess AT gmail DOT com

thanks

Rebecca :) said...

I've been wanting to read this. The book cover attracted me to it, but the plot summary and the reviews have cemented it on my TBR list. Your review was fantastic- lovely use of language and passion for the book. Thanks!

Wanda said...

I think I first saw this book featured as a cover attraction but your review is a clear reminder that it is what lies beneath the cover that counts. This sounds like a top-notch read that both my daughter and I would enjoy. Thanks for a wonderful review and the chance to win a copy!

I'll add this to my Up for Grabs post.

wanda_waiting[@]hotmail[.]com

Amber said...

I read The Kite Runner and loved it, so I am interested in seeing how this book stacks up!
Thank you for the giveaway :)
hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

Wanda said...

I've heard good things about this book and would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

naida said...

I've seen this one before and it does sound good.
Great review.
The cover on this one is beautiful too.
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

Meghan said...

This book sounds so good. I love the sections you quoted! I have seen it around the blogs a little, but your review has made me really want to read it.

I'd love to be entered!

meghankk at gmail dot com

Jake Lsewhere said...

I've also blogged about this giveaway here.

Thanks,
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

Pam said...

I love the cover of this. Please include me!

melacan at hotmail dot com

Jo-Jo said...

I blogged about the contest here.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

I'd love a shot at this! Please count me in. Thank you!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

carolsnotebook said...

This book sounds wonderful. And I have to admit the setting hooked me.

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

Julie P. said...

I wanted to read this one anyway and then your review reinforced it! I'd love to win!

bookingmama(at)gmail(com)

I also tweeted!

Kaye said...

The cover is so gorgeous. It sounds like there is a lot of heartbreak in there but that it is well written. Your review is wonderful. I'd like to have a chance at this one.

florida982002[at]yahoo.com

jpetroroy said...

This sounds great! Thanks!
JenP
jpetroroy@gmail.com

fitz12383 said...

Please include me in this giveaway. I've been wanting to read this one for awhile!
Thanks.

Amanda
fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

Barb said...

Your review drew me into the book's action. It was intriguing and I would really love to read it.

Please enter me into the giveaway.

bstilwell12 AT comcast DOT net

Barb said...

I tweeted about this contest. Here is the link

http://twitter.com/pine1211/status/3443613885

bstilwell12 AT comcast DOT net

Barb said...

I blogged about the giveaway also:

http://meditativereading.blogspot.com/2009/08/savvy-verse-wit-rooftops-of-tehran-by.html

bstilwell12 AT comcast DOT net

Nicole said...

Great review. This sounds like a good one Serena. I got really involved just reading what you had to say and I am definitely curious about all of the relationships that the characters have with each other.

Mel (He Followed Me Home) said...

please add my name to the hat :)

hefollowedme AT gmail DOT com

Thanks!

nfmgirl said...

Tweeted:
http://twitter.com/nfmgirl/status/3463665424

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

I blogged it:
http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/2009/08/book-giveaways-in-blogworld-08-22-09.html

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Esme said...

Serena-this is the first I have heard of this book-looks good. I am almost done with Rubies from the Orchard.

chocolateandcroissants at yahoo dot com

Esme said...

http://bit.ly/7u29k Rooftops of Tehran book giveaway.

tweet

chocolateandcroissants at yahoo dot com

Nelsby said...

Thanks so much for the giveaway -- I have read some really good reviews for this book!
Aimee
sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

Nelsby said...

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Thanks!
Aimee
sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

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Aimee
sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

Nelsby said...

Tweet: http://twitter.com/Nelsby/status/3487108728
Thanks!
Aimee
sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

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Aimee
sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

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Aimee
sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

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Aimee
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Aimee
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Kinga said...

Ah, I have been wanting to read this for a while! Please enter me (one entry) in the givaway!

Thanks!

John Mutford said...

Oooo, please enter me in the contest as well! jmutford 'at' hotmail 'dot' com.

Tam @ Bailey's and Books said...

Please add me to this contest, I have really been wanting to read this book.
My email is: baileysandbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thanks!

Rue said...

This sounds like an amazing book. Thanks for the chance to win!
ruthann (dot) francis (at) gmail (dot) com

carolsnotebook said...

I included this in a blog post.

http://carolsnotebook.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/giveaways-in-blogland-14/

carolsnotebook @ yahoo dot com

Sara said...

Nice review--it seeems like you really enjoyed it.

skkmiller at live dot com

Anonymous said...

Please count me in...thanks...great review.

karen k
kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

Miss Unconventional, Latina Fatale said...

I LOVE debut books!!

badassfemmes(at)yahoo(dot)com

S. Krishna said...

No need to enter me, but thanks for linking to my review! I enjoyed this one as well.