Tag Archives: The Septembers of Shiraz

Dalia Sofer at Keplers

Author Dalia Sofer of The Septembers of Shiraz spoke at Kepler’s bookstore in Menlo Park tonight, and I was very excited to go. I just finished reading her book a couple of days ago, so the timing was perfect.

The turnout was pretty decent, almost all the chairs were filled. Roughly 20 people showed up, but only about 5 people actually had any comments/questions.

After a brief introduction, Dalia walked to the podium, quietly taking her place the microphone, and finding her bookmark in her edition of her book. She gave a very short introduction to the section she was about to read, there was no set-up necessary as she started reading straight from page one of chapter one. She then jumped towards the end of the book, and read out of one of the later chapters.

The reading was fairly short though, about a half hour, with a book signing at the end. A few people in the audience could not stop gushing about how well written the book is. Another few people hadn’t read the book at all, so their questions were a little random.

Dalia herself, was extremely well spoken and friendly, but also reserved due to nerves. This is her first book, so I’m sure the book-tour trek across the nation must be a new arena for her.

Some interesting points of the Q&A

  • Dalia is working on a second novel, which she says will have a completely different feel and story line than this first novel.
  • Dalia spent most of her time developing the character Isaac, and was not sure how to approach Shirin (the daughter). Most people in the audience agreed that Shirin was one of the strongest characters in the novel.
  • Dalia worked on this novel off and on for about seven years. It started originally as a memoir of her family’s experiences in Iran. Dalia was about ten or so when her family moved out of Iran in 1982, so this story had its roots in a true setting. However, during the course of the seven years, the story became more fictional as Sofer began to develop a variety of characters to push the story along.
  • The title refers to a city in Iran which represents a more idealistic and simple time in Iran before the revolution. Shiraz is also Farsi for wine, but that’s not the meaning the author wanted to convey.

I mentioned to her that I thought it was very clever to a have running connection between the family members, their individual search for an identity. Even though their lives were falling apart all around them, there was that one connection that kept their family bonded. Dalia noted that many of the character parallels in the story were unintentional, and she did not realize that she had developed that whole layer of writing until after she had reread her work.

My opinion of her first novel still stands. Its an incredible read, full of sensory images and details. I hope more people will gently nudge this book closer to the top of their To-Read pile.

The Septembers of Shiraz – Review (part 1)

What Persepolis did to bring the revolution in Iran to the attention of youth culture, Dalia Sofer’s The Septembers of Shiraz takes one step further. In this novel, we follow the lives of a single family caught in the heart of the revolution. Isaac Amin is arrested in a warrentless land, on no charges other than mere suspicions and paranoia through his loose relations with the former Upper Class powers that were (The Shah). During this arrest, the rest of his family struggles to make some sense of the upheavel that has taken place in their lives.

Unrest is a constant theme in this novel, as is identity (or lack thereof). Sofer’s unique take on the novel gives the reader a different perspective in each chapter. We learn through the eyes and ears of Isaac, his wife Farnaz, their daughter and son. There is a strong emotional tie that connects each family member. Even though the son, Parvis, is living in New York, he struggles with his family to understand his place in the world. My favorite chapters were told through Isaac’s daughter, Shirin. Her young perceptive eyes tell a story in a direct and simplistic way that only a child could tell. We see the family fall apart, but somehow manage to stay together at the same time.

For me, it was weird reading this book, since it all took place in the same city/country were my family was living. The story takes place from September 1981 to September 1982, two years before I was born, although you can believe me when I say that the book does not exaggerate the desperation and struggles each and every characters goes through in this novel. Its a very insightful look into humanity and its will to survive.

Dalia Sofer is going to be speaking at a local bookstore in the Bay Area this week, see schedule at the bottom of the post. I plan to go tomorrow night, and hopefully will be able to update with some more insights into this novel after hearing her speak.

Find this book at your local library

The Septembers of Shiraz

The Septembers of Shiraz
by: Dalia Sofer
Harper Collins, 2007
ISBN: 0061130400
338 pages

Dalia Sofer Bay Area appearances

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
07:30 PM

BOOKS INC
BOOKS INC. 301 Castro St Mountain View, CA 94041
Thursday, June 12, 2008
07:30 PM

KEPLER’S BOOKS
STE 200 1010 El Camino Menlo Park, CA 94025

Thursday, June 12, 2008
12:30 PM – 01:30 PM

STACEY’S BOOKSTORE
581 Market ST San Francisco, CA 94105