This book is very close to my heart Rooftops of Tehran offers us an important glimpse into Iran which most of us are not aware of in any real sense. Even now we are reading about the protests and killings happening because of many people's dissatisfaction with the ruling party. Rooftops also takes place during a time of frustration with the government, but this time it is with the Shah (which the U.S. put in power) and the outcome not seen in the book is the eventual overthrow of the government.
Here the time is 197374 and we follow the life of four high school students, two boys and two girls, working on the transition to adulthood. Yes, a coming of age story, but with the secret police taking people without reason and erasing their existence, the decisions are a bit more important.
The best part of this book for many nonIranian readers will be the glimpse into the everyday world of Iran. Many of us think of the Iranian woman in a burka as the common standard. But here the burka is worn only by one extremely religious relative, the Masked Angel, in another city. Arranged marriages do exist, but the main one in this novel is broken in the face of true love (Ahmed and Faheemeh) and the love of Zari and Pasha (the two main characters) is welcomed by both sets of parents.
The drama moves forward when Zari's "arranged boyfriend," Doctor, disappears after working as an activist against the government. SAVAK is the name of the secret police force which becomes a character in itself, always watching and controlling people even when they are not sure of when and how. We watch as Zari and the others deal with Doctor's disappearance, while Pasha deals with guilt of loving Zari despite her engagement and also because he is unintentionally responsible for SAVAK catching Doctor.
SPOILER ALERT: Usually I avoid spoilers, but since my biggest frustration with the story comes in the plot direction, allow me to spoil! Doctor is killed in prison and the families are told to not mourn him. Zari is, of course, distraught over his death. However, it is clear throughout the book that she does not love him (she likes him) and that she loves Pasha. So it is surprising and hard to believe when she sets herself on fire on the 40th day of his death (a special time of mourning) while running into the Shah's birthday parade. Not only does she do this surprising act (she is hardly a radical), but she brings Pasha and their friends along to watchmuch to their horror. Pasha ends up in a mental institution (which we knew he would end up in since some chapters take place there, although until this incident we never know why he is there). Zari dies in her protest and Pasha returns home to find that the Masked Angel has moved into Zari's home (they are neighbors) to care for her parents. It takes one meeting with the Masked Angel and her whisper of a voice to figure out that Zari is alive and living in disguise. Why? Well, reasons are given, but none are easy to buy. SAVAK knows she is alive, so why hide it from anyone else? It takes Pasha a while to come to this realization and we wait not so patiently for this to develop. When it does she sends him off to the U.S. to study so he can return to her.
This twist in the plot is unnecessary and way too "cute" to read without frustration. But the anticlimax of the revelation and the reunion of the "lovers" is also not worth the wait. This book makes a good story for the sappy romantics of the world, but they can find better stories than this to entertain them. I could be accused of a romantic leaning (I do love Jane Austen!), but this is too thick for me.
What the book did encourage me to do is learn more about this country I still remember best for holding U.S. embassy employees hostage. I'm getting a nonfiction book on modernday Iran so I can learn more of its recent history and current state. If Seraji's intent was to interest us in Iran, he is successful. It his intent was to write a great story, maybe the sequel will be better A friend in the media sent me an advance reader copy of this book. It swept me away. I'm still struggling to find my way back into my real worldyes, it's one of those books: the story stays with you, the characters don't fade; a beautiful touching story in the voice of a 17year old, written like a pro, not a word out of place, not a thought out of character. So visually intenseI felt like I was watching a movie and not reading a book. Powerful, magnificently powerful.
I was blown away by the intensity of the narrator's casual but sophisticated voice, his willingness to expose his vulnerabilitiesreminding me of my first love (no I haven't forgotten you, if you happen to be reading) reminding me of the moment I lost my voice, my wits, and yes, my heart, too.
I didn't want the story to endanother 500 to 1000 pages would have sufficed! Have no doubt, Mr. Seraji, that soon everyone will be talking about ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN.
just one question and you can send me the answer in a private email: Did all this really happen? This is such a lovely, lovely book. I fell in love with the story and the characters. It was far beyond what I could have imagined on any coming of age story to be. It had me on the edge of my chair alternately sobbing and then cheering for the characters. I have to call them characters to remind myself that this book is fiction.
The story begins in Iran in 1973 when the Shah is in power and his subjects are tightly overseen by his secret police. Life continues as in many countries as long as their political beliefs are in line with that of the Shah or if they differ, they must be extremely well hidden from all.
Seventeen year old Pasha Shahed is in his last year of high school and when he graduates, his father will send him to the United States to study engineering. He spends most of his free time with his friend Ahmed. Together, the boys spend hours atop Pasha's roof, which is common practise in Tehran. They talk of all those things that interest teenage boys: school, teachers, their families, futures and perhaps, most important of all, girls. Ahmed loves Faheemeh, a girl from a few streets away, while Pasha is in love with Zari, the girl next door who is engaged to another of his friend's.
I love to read and learning about cultures that is different from mine. This was my first exposure to Iran outside of news reports. It was refreshing to learn of it's people and their daily life. They have many of the same concerns such as housing, food, education, but they must also contend with a government whose foremost concern is their leader. Any one who disagrees with the leader could be subject to dire consequences. This is something that Pasha must be ever conscious of.
The author, Mahbod Seraji, breathed so much life into these characters that I guess that they will not be forgotten. The young love of Pasha and Zari had me goes head over heels. I felt compassion for Grandma and was awed that the entire neighbourhood looked after her. I could clearly picture the homes, alleyways, streets and rooftops. At times I laughed out loud, and at the book's climax it had me crying :P
When you read it, you will find yourself wanting to go slowly, not wanting it to end :) To be honest, i picked up this book after reading Mornings in Jenin with the soul intention of trying to repair my damaged heart with the words of a different novel. To my dismay, my heartache only increased. The characters came to life in my mind and i fell in love with Ahmad's character. The message this book sends about standing for justice makes you think about how majority of the world stands by and watches in silence as the oppressors reign over the weak. Readers will learn that a life without freedom is no life at all, it is like living in a comma with a machine attached to you. (the machine being the oppressors who won't let you be). You are technically alive thanks to this machine....but are you living? READ THE BOOK. Every once in a while you stumble upon a book that, after reading it, you want to stop everyone on the street, hand them a copy, and insist they run home and read. Rooftops of Tehran is just that sort of book for me.
In many ways the themes are universal. It is a coming of age tale in which two life long friends experience their first loves and shed the naivete that we all eventually must let go of when we realize life is not fair and is often cruel. But, set in Iran during the tumultuous 70’s, the reader gets a glimpse into the history of Iran as well as its rich culture. In doing so, Seraji does his country a great service by bringing to light some of the lesser known aspects of the time. I’m always surprised to learn how many people are unaware of the U.S. role in the 1953 coup d'état. Further, so much of the writing regarding the 70’s focuses on the struggle between the Shah’s followers and the rising Islamic fundamentalists. Seraji demonstrates the danger those associated with Marxism faced. He brilliantly weaves the country’s history into the story by illustrating its impact on the psyche of the nation. “I wonder how we can explain this national impulse to cheat. Maybe it’s more a matter of sharing than cheating. I’ve heard that people in the West compete at everything, and that you’re either a loser or a winner. In my country, we don’t have that same competitive spirit. Centuries of misery under the dominance of the Moguls, Arabs, and internal despotic rulers have conditioned us to stick together and help each other through unpleasant situations.” Finally, he does the best job I’ve seen of illustrating the dynamics of USIranian relations at this time. I’ve read about the misconceptions that Iranians held during the era about Americans in many of the nonfiction books. Here, Seraji, illustrates them in ways that are quite humorous and brings clarity to a complicated subject.
The book is incredibly well written. For me, character development is critical to make my favorites list. Here, the characters are so well drawn that you can’t help but experience every emotion alongside the residents of the alley, and, boy, is it an emotional rollercoaster. I laughed at the antics of Ahmed. I cheered on the boys as they routinely stepped into aid each other. I set aside the book twice to cry my eyes out. And, I was often angry, wishing Pasha would forget his promise to the brotherhood of the boxing fraternity and knock someone’s lights out. The alternating periods during the first part of the book creates an incredible tension in the book as the reader quickly falls in love with the characters but understands early on that something devastating has occurred.
The only negative comment I can make is that the ending didn’t work for me. It simply wasn’t plausible. Because of that I should probably give it 4 stars, but I love the book so much I just can’t.
I will never look at a red rose again without thinking of this book.
Moving. Touching. Bittersweet. A story that attests to the unbreakable spirit.
I truly and thoroughly enjoyed every inch of this book. I commend the writer, Mahbod Seraji who himself talks in the Readers Guide (yes, it was that good I read into the readers guide) about the struggle to learn English when he came to America from Iran, for the beauty and brilliantly colorful way he weaves his words and presents to us this work of literary art. This is the story of Pasha Shahed, his undying love for Zari, his martyred mentor Doctor, his humorous best friend Ahmed and his fiancé Faheemah who all allow us a glimpse into their world seen from high atop the Rooftops of Tehran . This is a story that winds itself inside your heart and finds a place to live there never to be forgotten. Touching, wrapping around, embracing you within the very world of these characters until you read the last page and you find yourself wanting more. A need spreads and grows. I want to know that they all are alright. I need to know that they've lived out their lives surviving hopefully better than what they all experienced over the short period that this book chronicled. This is not an autobiography, so says the author but the spirit of these characters is so masterfully harnessed and embodied within his words you know in some way, some how, elements of these people did, do, must have walked the earth.
I've learned so much more than I knew about this country and this culture than I did before I read this book. Iran. As an American, I think I'm supposed to feel some type of way toward this country and it's people. As a person, a human being created by God I think, a country consists of a mass of people and how can I feel any type of way about a group of individuals I don't even know. Who don't know me. I don't know their individual stories and they don't know mine. I can't blind hate, it's not in me. Government stuff.. Well, I'm not very political and I leave that respectfully to those who know more. Me, I love to learn about cultures and people that I don't know about, because underneath all the blurred lines...we are all humans who live, love hard, experience hardship and tragedy, admire beauty, wish for peace and equality, to give our children the entire contents of our hearts and to die in peace. People at the crux of it all, are people. We may differ in shape, size, color or speech, even belief but at the center, in the pit and depth of a human, we're more the same than all the differences the small minded can list. That is what you will take away from this book. That you felt and deeply. Why? Because change the name, the place, circumstance, change it all.. What still stands, feelings. Emotions. This is the relation point. The connection. Any good book has it and this book has "that".
No doubt about it, this is one of those perfection 7 stars (GR5) books for me. I would have quoted more but just enjoying the story too much to stop and keep doing that when my available reading moments were precious to me. It's a great story, I want to recommend it to all but I don't think it's for all. It's full of love, it's full of heartache, it's tragic but it's also full of humor, culture and living. I love a book that draws me in emotional. If you're open to that, pick it up. If not, respectfully leave it on the shelf. I hate hearing books I love get ripped to shreds. I don't know yet if this author has more books but I will check them out.
Not sure what will be my next read but the bar is definitely set high now. Rooftops speaks to the universality of the human condition that knows no color, creed, sect or country. It is a story of hope,despite the abysmal darkness of a great loss. The voice evolves throughout the story, as does the young hero. Its piercing reality, relentless humor and often heartbreaking anguish turns the pages, and all along we hope we hope that love fills the void left by the lossand we as readers are whole again.
A touching tale that must be told I acquired this book a long time ago and it got lost somewhere in my stacks of books. I was elated when I found it this morning, after trying to find it for many months, and decided to spend the entire Sunday in bed, reading a tale I marked boldly MUST READ on my TBR list in my diary in 2012.
Colorful, descriptive, detailed, compassionate, entertaining, rich in color and culture, is how I would love to summarize this fictional biography which is mainly based on the author's memories of his life in Iran, prior to living in America.
He uses a fictional protagonist, Pasha Shahed who regarded life "as a random series of beautifully composed vignettes, loosely tied together by a string of characters and time" to act as himself in the narrative.
Pasha had five friends: Ahmed, Faheemah, Iraj, Zari and Doctor(Ramin Sobhi, a political science major and political activist on the SAVAK hunt list).
The young people discovered the value and truth behind, humor, love, hope and friendship in a tumultuous time in their history, while the reader accompanies them down the alleys of the neighborhood, spend nights with them on the roof, peek with them into the neighborhood windows, and fall in love with the girl next door. Warm, funny, generous people open up a culture that is normally hidden from the world.
The story opens in 1974 with an old man standing somewhere in the buildings of the Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital in Tehran, lost and disconnected from reality, chanting in an empty tone:
If I had a book, I would read it.Seventeenyearold Pasha Shahed finds himself(temporarily) in a wheelchair nearby with no memory of how he landed there. Slowly his memory returns through painful dreams ...
If I had a song, I would sing it.
If I knew a dance, I would dance it.
If I knew a rhyme, I would chant it.
If I had a life, I would risk it.
If I could be free, I would chance it.
If I had a horse, I would ride it.
If I had a horse, I would ride it.
If I had a horse ...
A fictional tragic, but beautiful love story plays itself out amidst the revolt around the ousting of the Shah, in the 1970s in which a community have to deal with the secret police, and the devastation and torture resulting from the tyrannical ruler at the time.
Most of the story plays out on the rooftops of Tehran and explains the title. It was so beautifully done that I felt like a family member running around with the young teenager in the alleys, playing chess or soccer on the street, challenging the rigid religious teachers, cry, laugh and love with a community who took care of each other.
Four of the friends become involved in a tragic incident during a birthday celebration of the Shah of Iran, which will change their destinies forever.
There's humor, tears, miracles and misery, and Ahmed's grandmother who was roaming the alleys looking for her husband who passed away a few years earlier. And Iraj who prefers to play chess against himself and then cannot decided who wins ...
I have such a great admiration for Iran and its people. Old Persia with its ancient civilization and intriguing history have an ongoing story to tell to the world, and I appreciate the authors who are trying to introduce the real multicultural Iran to the world. Mahbod Seraji did a splendid job in Rooftops of Iran
Last year we met an Iranian student doing research on leopards for his doctorate degree. He stayed with us for a few months, since my husband has been sponsoring leopard research for many many years. I was so surprised to learn that Iran has national parks, unbelievable wild life and one of the biggest leopard species in the world! By the time I met Benjamin, I already got to know more about this amazing, diverse country through the books I mentioned below. The beautiful warmhearted people inspired me to read more Iranian authors who might enrich my knowledge of a country I would love to visit one day.
It is with this background that I wanted to read Rooftops of Irana heartfelt biographical fictional story with a strong autobiographical element. As such it is an excellent read since, IMHO, it does not really fall into the 'real' novel classification (such as The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan story), although there is a little bit of suspense, lots of drama, and a well developed mystery to the tale with several colorful characters to fill up the heartbreaking, as well as heartwarming moments in the book.
After closing the book, I wanted to read more about the author and discovered a audio version of the book on Youtube, a movie trailer and interesting interviews with the author.
I'm pasting the links below.
A Goodreads interview:
Two other memoirs which introduced me to this amazing country were:
1) The Cypress Tree: A Love Letter to Iran by Kamin Mohammadi
2) A Beginner's Guide to Acting English by Shappi Khorsandi
A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE for historical fiction, as well as fictional biography readers who loves to explore the different cultures of the world.
I loved it!
Rooftops Of Tehran Seraji, Mahbod Livres Rooftops Of Tehran Is A Remarkable Novel By Author Mahbod Seraji Who Depicts Not Only A Love Story But Also A Political Corruption Story The Novel Attracts Every Reader, Making It Difficult To Stop Reading After Each Chapter The Story S Set In Iran With Narrator Pasha, A Young Boy Who Develops As The Novel Progresses Alongside Pasha Is Ahmed, Faheemeh, And Zari The Story Begins With The Young Teens Rooftops Of Tehran In Writing Rooftops Of Tehran, I Wanted To Acquaint The Readers With Iran, And Bring To Life A Small Part Of The Centuries Old Persian Culture At A Time When The Country Of My Birth Is Often Portrayed In The Media As The Enemy, I Chose To Tell A Story Of Friendship And Humor, Love And Hope Universal Experiences Treasured By People Everywhere I Aimed To Show A Side Of Iran That S Often Concealed From The Rooftops Of Tehran Mahbod Seraji, Jonathan Todd RossPasser Au Contenu Principal Bonjour, Identifiez Vous Rooftops Of Tehran By Mahbod Seraji Goodreads Rooftops Of Tehran Is So Many Things Semi Autobiographical, A Beautifully Done Coming Of Age Story, A Portrait Of A Specific Time And Place Tehran It S Peopled With Wonderful Characters, The Kind Who Stay With You After You Ve Finished The Book, Who Pop Into Your Head For A Visit Like Old Friends It S Also One Of The Best Portraits Of Teenage Life I Ve Ever Read The Way Seraji Evokes Tehran And The Rooftops Of Tehran Mahbod Seraji Read Online Rooftops Of Tehran Takes An Uncommon And Refreshing View Of Iran And Reveals How An American Immigrant Is Born Out Of A Young Foreigner S Desperation For Self Determination And Social Freedom Susanne Pari, Author Of The Fortune Catcher What A Profound Pleasure To Discover Such Solid Storytelling And Splendid Prose In A Debut Novel With The Voice Of A Poet, Seraji Has Told A Universal Tale Rooftops Of Tehran Summary SuperSummary Widely Celebrated For Its Passionate Study Of Rebellion Against Political Repression, Rooftops Of Tehran Explores Friendship, Love, Hope, And Resistance Through The Tale Of A Young Man Coming Of Age In Iran In The Early S It Opens With The Seventeen Year Old Protagonist, Pasha, Stargazing On A Rooftop With His Closest Friend, Ahmed The Boys Discuss Friends, Family, And The Future, And Pasha Thinks Back To HisRooftops Of Tehran A Novel Rooftops Of Tehran Is A Remarkable Novel By Author Mahbod Seraji Who Depicts Not Only A Love Story But Also A Political Corruption Story The Novel Attracts Every Reader, Making It Difficult To Stop Reading After Each Chapter The Story S Set In Iran With Narrator Pasha, A Young Boy Who Develops As The Novel Progresses Alongside Pasha Is Ahmed, Faheemeh, And Zari The Story Begins With The Young