Jumping Over Fire

Jumping Over Fire

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by Nahid Rachlin

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Iranian family embroiled in Islamic revolution, the hostage crisis, incest, and exile in America.See more details below


Iranian family embroiled in Islamic revolution, the hostage crisis, incest, and exile in America.

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.

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Product Details

City Lights Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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