The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons: Selected Storiesby Goli Taraghi
“Carries the flavor of the old world, its underlying ferocity leavened by a lyrical mysticism. . . . Her prose is transcendent.”—Washington PostRich in characters both whimsical and deeply poignant, humorous and real, the stories of Goli Taraghi have made her one of the world’s most beloved contemporary writers from Iran. A/p>/em>
“Carries the flavor of the old world, its underlying ferocity leavened by a lyrical mysticism. . . . Her prose is transcendent.”—Washington PostRich in characters both whimsical and deeply poignant, humorous and real, the stories of Goli Taraghi have made her one of the world’s most beloved contemporary writers from Iran. A best-selling author in her native country and widely anthologized in the United States and around the world, Taraghi's work is now made fully accessible to an English-speaking audience in this standout and long-awaited volume of selected stories, selected as a Best Book of 2013 by staff and critics at National Public Radio.
Drawing on childhood experiences in Tehran during the reign of the Shah, her exile in Paris, and her subsequent visits to Tehran after the revolution, Taraghi develops characters and tales that linger in one’s mind. In the title story, a woman traveling from Tehran to Paris is obliged to help an old woman—the Pomegranate Lady—find her way to her fugitive sons in Sweden. In "The Gentleman Thief," a new kind of polite, apologetic thief emerges from the wreckage of the revolution. In "Encounter," a woman's world is upended when her former maid becomes her jailer. And in "The Flowers of Shiraz," a group of teenagers finally manages to coax a shy schoolmate out of her shell—only to once again encounter tragedy.
Reminiscent of the work of Nadine Gordimer and Eudora Welty, Taraghi's stories capture universal experiences of love, loss, alienation, and belonging—all with an irresistible sense of life’s absurdities.
An Iranian writer prized internationally and among fellow writers of fiction deserves a wider American readership for this rich, provocative collection of stories. Though there's occasionally a "once upon a time," fablelike quality to these stories, Taraghi's fiction (A Mansion in the Sky, 2003, etc.) reflects her own experience as a woman born in Tehran in 1939; she has suffered the upheavals of war and revolution, seen the rules change and disappear, and has long lived in Paris. Many of these are tales of two cities, of relocating to a city where one cannot be at home--"Our lives as foreigners in Paris are full of hidden anxieties," she writes in "The Neighbor," one of the shorter and strongest stories here--while their home in pre-revolutionary Tehran exists only in memory. "If Iran was not at war, I would go back home," explains the narrator of the same story. "If it weren't for my fear of the bombs and the rockets, I would not stay here a single day. But in truth, the real battlefield is here." Though the turbulence gives each story a political dimension, the human condition is at the heart of these stories, which explore the ambiguities of freedom and the essence of exile through a series of narrators, many of whom share gender, generational and geographical specifics with the author, but most have a limited perspective and some seem to have blinders on. One of the longer stories, "Amina's Great Journey," traces the arc of a Bangladeshi maid's life and travails, as recounted by the condescending narrator who employs her, first in Tehran and later in Paris, and who becomes her reluctant benefactor. In "The Encounter," the narrator finds herself at the mercy of a nanny she had fired, perhaps unjustly, in the post-revolution turning of tables. There is plenty of dark humor in these stories amid "the painful ambiguity of conjecture and uncertainty." The simple diction throughout belies the depth and ambition of this fiction.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Meet the Author
Goli Taraghi was born in Tehran in 1939. She has been honored as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France, and her work has been widely anthologized, including in Reza Aslan’s Tablet and Pen. She lives in Paris.
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