I am a loyal member of the New York Public Library (NYPL), and my last loan was Dina Nayeri’s excellent A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea. It took me about ten days to get through the 400+ page novel, not because it was tough to get through, but because it’s a novel to be savored.
It is the story of Saba Hafezi, a young woman living in post-revolutionary Iran, and the stories she imagines around the disappearances of her twin sister, Mahtab, and her mother. Originally from Tehran, Saba grows up in the village of Cheshmeh and is surrounded by surrogate mothers, sisters and brothers. It is in this world that she feels most outside, and her search to realize her own identity and dreams is what this novel is about.
(That may sound so broad, but this book is too good, and I don’t want to give too much of the story away!)
At its core, Nayeri’s novel is about storytelling, and how stories takes us to new places and how even the most far-fetched of them reveals so much of who we are. I loved every single page. Nayeri is a truly gifted writer.
There are quite a few good books out there portraying the life of women in Iran during the 1980s. My favorites, aside from Nayeri’s novel, are Reading Lolita in Tehran (non-fiction) and Persepolis (graphic novel). I highly recommend you add these three to your reading list if you want to get lost in some fantastic, innovative reads.