By Nahid Rachlin.
New York: W.W. NORTON & COMPANY, 1978
ISBN # 0-393-31908-3
192 pages

Comments by Bob Corbett
August 2011

Feri has returned to Iran to visit her family. Some 14 years earlier her father had sent her to the United States for college. After her undergraduate degree she went on to graduate studies and has become a researcher in biological science. She’s married an American professor, Tony McIntosh, and lives in the Boston area having seemingly become significantly Americanized.

The time isn’t quite specified, but it seems to have been after the fall of the Shah, but before the U.S. hostage situation which began in 1979. The book’s copyright date in 1978.

Feri begins her visit with her father and his second wife and her son by her first marriage. They live in an old, large but run-down home in Teheran.

In the early days of her visit she is convinced she has erred in coming and even decides to cut her visit quite short to return home. However, the difficult bureaucratic situation for getting her “exit” visa causes a delay. In that time of delay she begins to wonder about her mother who seemingly abandoned her when she was just a tiny child and ran off with another man. So she tracks her mother down and goes to visit.

Little by little the tone of the novel changes. Early on it this Americanized woman returning home to the “primitive” land, and not comfortable with what she’s found. She wants to return to her “better” life in the U.S. However, when she can’t reach her husband she begins to realize things are not so ideal and perfect in their relationship and she begins to look more deeply into her life and values. Before long she is caught in sort of a crisis where she doesn’t really know who she is or where she belongs. She embarks on a hard journey to discover who she is, and this novel appears to be perhaps only the opening chapter.

I liked the book very much. Feri was, for me, a very likeable character, and I respected her even more as she became more reflective and serious about her own life and values.

However, I learned things about myself which I was a bit surprised at. When Feri first begins to question aspects of her American life and to value some aspects of her Iranian life, I was taken aback, wondering -- How can you be serious? I was simply startled at how much my own views have just internalized so much of American life as “life as it should be.” Author Nahid Rachlin was able to push me very much to become sympathetic with Feri’s journey, no matter how it eventually turned out. A well-written and thoughtful novel.

Bob Corbett


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Bob Corbett