Children of the Jacaranda Tree

Sahar Delijani. Atria, $24.99 (280p) ISBN 978-1-4767-0909-3
Born in 1983 in an Iranian prison, Delijani delivers a fictionalized account of her harrowing origins. This debut novel opens with blindfolded and handcuffed pregnant dissident Azar’s water breaking in the back of a van. During labor in the prison, Azar encounters both sympathetic doctors and iron-fisted interrogators. Her struggle to keep her story straight; limit stress to her baby, Neda; and get word to her family that she’s alive is heartbreakingly heroic. During the chaotic birth, Delijani rapidly shifts between locations and conditions, creating confusion and a maelstrom of imagery. After this strong opening in Evin Prison, Delijani turns from the powerful immediacy of Azar’s fight to the struggle outside, touching on the bleak sadness of four prisoners’ families over three repetitious sections. While the dissidents undergo random and brutal interrogations, their children are punished daily by the absence of their parents, and fear twists and deforms relationships, making the whole world a prison. At the book’s end, Neda reappears as an adult in Italy, contemplating her situation within a global context. A contrivance connects her to the Arab Spring through the son of a Revolutionary Guard, leaving it unclear if she’ll be able to fully transcend her bloody history. Agent: Victoria Sanders, Victoria Sanders & Associates. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/25/2013
Release date: 06/18/2013
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Library Binding - 351 pages - 978-1-61173-935-0
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