Jumping Over Fire

Jumping Over Fire

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by Nahid Rachlin
     
 

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Fleeing a neocolonial oil town in southern Iran as Khomeini rises to power, the Ellahi family emigrates to the US, where Nora and her adopted brother Jahan struggle to end their incestuous attachment, get through college, and forge independent lives. Confronted by anti-Iranian hostility, Jahan is drawn to Islam, ultimately going back to join the Iranian army to

Overview

Fleeing a neocolonial oil town in southern Iran as Khomeini rises to power, the Ellahi family emigrates to the US, where Nora and her adopted brother Jahan struggle to end their incestuous attachment, get through college, and forge independent lives. Confronted by anti-Iranian hostility, Jahan is drawn to Islam, ultimately going back to join the Iranian army to fight Saddam Hussein, while Nora takes advantage of the greater opportunities and personal freedom for women here.

Nahid Rachlin is the Iranian-American author of Veils, Foreigner, Married to a Stranger, and The Heart's Desire. She teaches at New School University and the Unterberg Poetry Center in New York.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rachlin illuminates the private and public consequences of the Islamic revolution in her latest novel of 20th-century Iranian life (Heart's Desire). Nora Ellahi, the daughter of an Iranian doctor and his American wife, lives a sheltered life among the economic elite of the oil city Masjid-e-Suleiman in the 1970s. While dissatisfaction with the ruling Shah and resentment of foreign influence spills over into street demonstrations, Nora grows increasingly attracted to her adopted brother, Jahan, a full Iranian, and their sexual affair blossoms during a summer at their country house in Meigoon. Nora and Jahan's illicit relationship plays out against the backdrop of a restrictive society, and the burgeoning revolution lends tension to each daily activity. The novel's less propulsive second half is set in America. When the revolution reaches Masjid-e-Suleiman, the Ellahi family leaves Iran and resettles in Long Island, where Nora revels in the more liberal society but the rest of the family struggles to adapt. Ultimately, Jahan must choose between the freedom of America and the patriotic call of serving his birth country in the Iran-Iraq war. Though Rachlin sometimes sacrifices art for clarity with her straightforward writing, she delivers a complex portrait of a divided Iran. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-When Muslim extremists outlaw the Persian tradition of bonfires in celebration of Norooz (New Year), the children in Nora and Jahan's neighborhood build their own small fires in the street, jumping and playing until police chase them back into their houses. This is just one of many gemlike memories that, strung together like a series of Persian miniatures, relate Nora's story of her life in a world fragmented by irreconcilable forces. As children, the privileged daughter and son of an American mother and an Iranian father create a magical world of their own within a larger doll's house, the housing compound of the Iranian-American Oil Company. As they enter adolescence, they discover that Jahan was adopted, and their love takes an erotic and ambiguously incestuous turn. When political unrest forces the family to escape to America, they must build new lives; there, and finally in Iran, the now-mostly-American Nora and the now-mostly-Persian Jahan ultimately free themselves of their secret pasts and find very different paths to adulthood. Complexities of Iranian culture, recent history, and current events create a vivid background for a moving and suspenseful story. A deeply flawed family, and the people of many nationalities who touch their lives, is seen with a clear but forgiving eye; the heavy toll of intolerance is shown with an unsparing one. A discussion guide is provided, though it seems unlikely most groups would need one to spark a lively interchange of ideas inspired by this wise and timely novel.-Christine C. Menefee, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780872864528
Publisher:
City Lights Books
Publication date:
04/01/2006
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author


Nahid Rachlin is the Iranian-American author of four novels, short stories, and essays. She teaches at New School University and the Unterberg Poetry Center at the 92nd Street Y, New York City.

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Jumping Over Fire 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading Nahid Rachlin¿s JUMPING OVER FIRE, a beautifully crafted tale, written with subtlety and insight that is rare in modern prose. Her deeply moving story about the Ellahi family, caught up in the throes of the Iranian revolution, touches on a myriad of topics, including forbidden love, and the loss and abandonment of family and country. What is most remarkable about Ms. Rachlin¿s writing is the empathy she brings to each character -- particularly to Nora, the heroine, who, by birth and by circumstance, straddles two cultures. JUMPING OVER FIRE presents a window into this unique world. I highly recommended this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So deftly and thoroughly does Rachlin flesh out her protagonist, the reader quickly comes to think of Nora as an alter ego. Yet another example of Rachlin's specialty: provocative, deceptively simple prose brimming with psychological insights. A bold ,yet delicately wrought exploration into a most formidable taboo. This reader is hungry for a sequel!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nahid Rachlin's Jumping Over Fire is an engaging portrait of an Iranian-American family caught up in the midst of turmoil of an Islamic revolution, hostage crisis, cultural tensions, and exile in America. The protagonists, mainly Nora and Jahan and their American-Iranian parents, are complex and very real. Nora's attraction to her adopted brother Jahan is developed in the context of all the limitations she feels as a young girl growing up in Iran. The passion, the skillful way that the narrative unfolds, propel the reader to keep turning the pages. At the same time Jumping Over Fire is a timely book that through its characters illuminates the Iranian culture more intimately than the news can.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nahid Rachlin has done it again, this time with a suspenseful story about a brother and sister united by a secret. The novel moves quickly, and the reader is left guessing from page to page until the surprising and satisfying conclusion. The author's knowledge of Middle Eastern culture gives the novel a very authentic feel, and I especially enjoyed the references to Persian poems and lullabyes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Set against the backdrop of war , betrayal of a nation , death, mutilation , displacement and destruction, the tender awakening of desire in a pubescent girl!!! The story is so suspenseful that I was tempted many a time to read the last pages to find out the outcome. Nahid is the most eminent transcultural novelist in the US and with this novel she displays the utmost mastery of the art. She shows the universality of human experience with words as precise as a surgical instrument. BRAVA NAHID !!! Parviz B. Mehri, MD, FACS. FICS