A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea: A Novel

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea: A Novel

by Dina Nayeri


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From the author of Refuge, a magical novel about a young Iranian woman lifted from grief by her powerful imagination and love of Western culture.

Growing up in a small rice-farming village in 1980s Iran, eleven-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister, Mahtab, are captivated by America. They keep lists of English words and collect illegal Life magazines, television shows, and rock music. So when her mother and sister disappear, leaving Saba and her father alone in Iran, Saba is certain that they have moved to America without her. But her parents have taught her that “all fate is written in the blood,” and that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea. As she grows up in the warmth and community of her local village, falls in and out of love, and struggles with the limited possibilities in post-revolutionary Iran, Saba envisions that there is another way for her story to unfold. Somewhere, it must be that her sister is living the Western version of this life. And where Saba’s world has all the grit and brutality of real life under the new Islamic regime, her sister’s experience gives her a freedom and control that Saba can only dream of.

Filled with a colorful cast of characters and presented in a bewitching voice that mingles the rhythms of Eastern storytelling with modern Western prose, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is a tale about memory and the importance of controlling one’s own fate.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594632327
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/07/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 251,483
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dina Nayeri was born in Tehran during the revolution and immigrated to Oklahoma at ten years old. She has a BA from Princeton and a Master of Education and MBA from Harvard. She is a Truman Capote Fellow and a Teaching Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from "A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Dina Nayeri.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Lovely."—Vanity Fair

"A feel-good family tale."—Cosmopolitan

"Ambitious . . . There’s a kaleidoscopic quality to Dina Nayeri’s prose, evoking the beat of Eastern storytelling, while its cadences remain resolutely American. . . . The novel’s message, however, is universal: we must do all we can to control our own fates."—The Daily Mail

“What a tremendous gift [Nayeri] offers us throughout the book, an opportunity to connect with the richness of Iran, while simultaneously enlarging our understanding of the human experience.”—Baltimore Times

"Nayeri’s highly accomplished debut is a rich, multilayered reading experience. Structurally complex, the overriding theme is storytelling in all its forms, and the fine line between truth and lies. Each one of the large cast of characters is fully realized and sympathetic. Saba is a captivating heroine whose tragedies and triumphs will carry readers on a long but engrossing ride."—Library Journal (starred review)

“From the imprint that brought you Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner; the sort of embracing and embraceable culturally far-reaching fiction Riverhead does best.”—Booklist

"[An] elegant aspirational novel of life in post-revolutionary Iran. . . . Richly imaginative . . . Lyrical, humane, and hopeful."—Kirkus

“Charming and engrossing, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is a vivid and evocative story about the places we love, the places we long for—and the places we can only imagine.”—Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles

"Pure magic: lyrical, captivating, funny, and heartbreaking. Entering the world of the intriguing Saba Hafezi and her friends in a seaside village in northern Iran, I lost my heart.” —Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation

“Captivating. It reminds us how storytelling can save our lives. A brilliant debut.”—Michelle Huneven, author of Blame

Customer Reviews

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A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I disliked this book so much I couldn't finish it. Tedius, repetitive, and boring with mostly unlikeable characters. Not as much about Iranian life as about one girl/woman's obsession and delusion about her lost/missing mother & sister. Author did not explore psychological depth of the characters so ultimately missed the chance for a really interesting book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An_Arkansas_Reader More than 1 year ago
In many books, what is written on the book jacket or the online description gives away what happens in the first few chapters. In a Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, that description makes up the entirety of its plot. Not an action driven novel, this is primarily a story of what it feels like to be a woman in Iran after the Revolution. Though the writing is beautiful and evocative, the story itself seems to drag. I found the tone of the book and its main characters to be largely self-pitying. I might be whiney too in their circumstances, but I like to have a worthy protagonist to root for when I read, like I did in The Taliban Cricket Club or All Woman and Springtime. I will recommend this novel to friends for its beautiful writing and sense of atmosphere, but it won’t be at the top of my list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lovely and poetic. This tale of Iran and its treatment of women, reminds each of us just how fragile life and human rights are. Great discussion book for a book club.
k-puff More than 1 year ago
This book held my intrest. I like most books by Indian authors,they usually weave a good tale and this book does just that. I think this book would make a good book club discussion group as there many different aspects to discuss.