At the Wall of the Almightyby Farnoosh Moshiri
But Loony Kamal, the prison guard, doesn't believe him. Is it really possible for a man to forget who he is? To/i>
"I know that I'm in the hallways of El-Deen, the central prison of the Holy Republic, and I know that this guard is taking me from my solitary confinement - the Black Box - to cell number four, cell of the Unbreakables. But this is all I know..."
But Loony Kamal, the prison guard, doesn't believe him. Is it really possible for a man to forget who he is? To lose every shred of memory? Loony Kamal is bent on finding out. Our narrator, though, is even more determined to survive. Their relationship - with its inhuman brutality and surprising tenderness - lies at the complicated heart of Farnoosh Moshiri's extraordinary debut novel. Which is where we quickly find ourselves, too, for we want what each man wants: like Kamal, we want to know more about our hero; like our hero, we long for his escape from Kamal's grasp and the prison's walls.
As if he were a tatter-day Sheherazade, our hero fights for his life by retreating into a world of stories - or memories? - of grandmothers and peacocks, love songs and saffron smells, and the softness of a young girl's hand pulling him up onto a magic carpet that flies down New Spring Street, over the crooked houses, to the Almighty Wall, which All the Bricklayer stacks taller every night.
The grim unreality of life inside the prison falls darkly upon us, but the fire of Moshiri's imagination also lights the way to a different world. The masterful whole she fashions of torture and fragments is essential reading not just for those interested in the seldom-heard voices of Iranian woman, but for those who care about the progress of literature.
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Read 'At The Wall of the Almighty' and know what it feels like to be enmeshed in a Persian fabric. As the narrator takes you through his universe of memories of childhood and youth, you will think of the universe inside yourself. Like the colors set in Persian tapestry, your imagination will resonate as the nameless narrator, the unbreakable one, relates the fantasies, memories and dreams of his past in the pages of the novel. Read 'At The Wall of the Almighty' and follow the narrator through the mental, emotional, and physical anguish of a political prisoner who is defiant, yet completely subject to the merciless, inhuman power of religious fundamentalists who have taken secular power and use it to crush any independence of body, mind or spirit. Beyond the local circumstances depicted in the novel, you will find universal themes: love, family, friendship, childhood, coming-of-age, the individual and society, freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, the desire for happiness. Moshiri's novel takes you through the sensual, emotional and spiritual moments of contemporary human experience masterfully and unforgettably.
Reading this book makes you realize that Joseph Conrad's Mr. Kurtz did not have a clue when he whispered, 'The horror! The horror!' This work easily eclipses Puig's 'Kiss of the Spider Woman,' Bharadwaj's 'Closet Land,' and Kafka's 'The Trial,' and 'Metamorphosis.' The incredible interplay between the ever changing, metamorphosing 'good' and 'evil' characters, the horrifying themes, the nightmarish and disturbing images, the heroic struggle to overcome, to make sense, to drive meaning out of misery ... This book will leave you awe struck. Wagner would have been proud to have collaborated with this modern-day, existential Persian Shahrazad to compose an opera based on her work. Please write more, Ms. Moshiri.