It is the early 1950s in a restless Iran, a country powerful with oil wealth but unsettled by class and religious divides and by a larger world hungry for its resources. One night, a humble driver in the Iranian army is walking home through a neighbourhood in Tehran when he hears a small, pitiful cry. Curious, he searches for the source, and to his horror comes upon a newborn baby girl abandoned by the side of the road and encircled by ravenous dogs. He snatches up the child, and forever alters his own destiny and that of the little girl, whom he names Aria.
Nazanine Hozar's stunning debut takes us inside the Iranian revolution — but seen like never before, through the eyes of an orphan girl. Through Aria, we meet three very different women who are fated to mother the lost child: reckless and self-absorbed Zahra, wife of the kind-hearted soldier; wealthy and compassionate Fereshteh, who welcomes Aria into her home, adopting her as an heir; and finally, the mysterious, impoverished Mehri, whose connection to Aria is both a blessing and a burden. The novel's heart-pounding conclusion takes us through the brutal revolution that installs the Ayatollah Khomeini as Iran's supreme leader, even as Aria falls in love and becomes a young mother herself. (From Knopf Canada)
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From the book
Trucks rumbled along the gravel road in the dead of the night, vibrating like a line of ants, thick tarpaulins shaking as engines whirred and wheels lifted dust, fogging the cold February air. Behrouz Bakhtiar closed his eyes. A film of dirt coated the skin covering the thin bones of his face. He watched by moonlight as four eight-wheelers filled with young men from the provinces rolled away.
He would not be driving the young men home as usual. This was the first night of his four days off. He would instead place a cigarette in his mouth, light it with the last match he had in his pocket, and walk home down the red mountain, where earth mingled with snow, then stride through the city from north to south. This was his Tehran, and he was its secret guardian, the angel perched on the mountaintop counting buildings, trees, lights, and people who walked about like insects, unaware of being watched.
From Aria by Nazanine Hozar ©2019. Published by Knopf Canada.