Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review: A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

Book Name : A Teaspoon Of Earth And Sea
Author : Dina Nayeri
Genre: Lit fiction
My rating : 4.5/5
Publishers : Allen and Dunwin
Book source : Review copy from  MYSMARTPRICE.COM

Synopsis from Goodreads

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

My views

I have officially been bitten by the Iran mania . First, it was Reading Lolita in Tehran , and now this book. And I am going to be continuing this odyssey with Persepolis next ..Back to what I thought about the book. The starting was a little shaky ,with the author switching POAs , but once past thirty pages, I started liking the book .  The pace is languid , and Dina's prose meanders and serenades us slowly,but steadily , and by the time she is done with her story , I was in love with the characters, so much so that I started  thinking about 'What happens next? after the book ends'. This , I think is a mark of a beautiful novel . Something that makes us spend restless nights thinking about the fates of the characters, that one starts feeling their pain and happiness definitely is a masterpiece. It might not be in the league of The kite Runner , but the lilting sadness that lingers around the protagonist of the book(Saba) just takes one's breath away. 

Dina has woven a beautiful story that is poignant , heart-breaking, liberating  and fun at the same time. I loved how she has spent time etching every single character with great precision through the things they do or say. I totally fell in love with Saba's character and found myself rooting for nice things to happen to her.  After reading Lolita in Tehran and the revolutionary ideas put-forth by the author, I found Saba' s quiet struggle against the New and baffling Iran rather refreshing. Though saddened by the choices she makes , I could understand why she chose to take more difficult path.  The mystery behind her mother and twin sister's disappearance is something that will keep us on tenterhooks.   

Also , the switching between point of views is a rather clever move by the author. Though , initially it did seem a little choppy, once past thirty odd pages, the change in perspectives and POAs was a welcome break as it took the melancholy off the narrative. Saba's vibrant tale of subversion of the establishment and   the  facets of a village life in Cheshmeh  she has with her friends (Reza and Ponneh) is the perfect foil for the  narration of atrocities that the Islamic state thrusts on Iranians. And choosing Khanom Basir as one of the narrators was also a good idea, considering how different her view-point is from Saba's. I also loved how Saba imagines the life of her twin sister Mahtab in America and concocts stories about her life. She lives her fantasies through her sister's imagined life. A brilliant idea, if you as me!

I also enjoyed reading about Saba's and her friend's obsession for all things American , and how she thirsts for  books and novels and English music. It is even difficult to imagine how simple things that we take for granted ( like wearing a red nail polish or  reading a mildly scandalous  book )were banned in post-revolutionary Iran. Such level of censorism is just frightening.  

What will Saba do with her life? Will she stay in Iran , with its Pasadars and moral police draining every bit of life out of her , or will she flee to America  and search for Mahtab and her mother? Read the book to find out :) 

Overall, an awesome read..Recommended for all lovers of literary fiction. You'll love it if you loved The kite Runner and A thousand Splendid suns. 

Thanks to Mysmartprice.com for sponsoring my book. Want to buy this book ? Check out the best deals on the book here .