by Dalia Sofer
The Septembers of Shiraz tells the story of a modern day Iranian family living in Tehran and dealing with the repercussions of a father’s wrongful imprisonment. In the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, Isaac Amin is accused of being a spy, sending him to jail and forcing each member of his family to navigate the challenges of being Jewish in an unstable country with ever-growing Muslim fanaticism.
- In Septembers of Shiraz, the reader follows one story through the eyes of four different characters. How does the telling of this story through these multiple perspectives affect your understanding of the events?
- With the Iranian Revolution as a backdrop, Septembers of Shiraz provides an examination of human relationships – between husband and wife, parent and child, neighbors, and employer and employees. How do these relationships change as the story progresses? Do these changes accurately portray the complexity of interpersonal relations in troubled times?
- Farnaz’s housekeeper suggests the idea of communal justice by way “collective retribution.” Do you agree or disagree with this concept?
- Talmud Ta’anit 11a states, “When the community is in trouble do not say, ‘I will go home and eat and drink and all will be well with me.’… Rather, involve yourself in the community’s distress as was demonstrated by Moses (Exodus 27:12). In this way Moses said, ‘Since Israel is in trouble, I will share their burden.’” Do you agree with this teaching? Do characters in Septembers of Shiraz follow it? During and after a national revolution, it is reasonable to expect one to do so?
- Isaac is persecuted because he is Jewish – even though he has led an essentially secular life. His son, Parvis, renting an apartment from a Hassidic family in Brooklyn, is denied the love of his landlord’s daughter because he is not Jewish enough. What do you think about the ways in which people classify and categorize one another – and set boundaries and differences? Do you think these boundaries are sometimes justified? Question from publisher.
- Has this book changed your understanding of Iran – its history, its culture and its people? If so, does this new understanding affect how you perceive the current stand-off between Iran and the United States? Question from publisher.