Refuge

Dina Nayeri. Riverhead, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59448-705-7
A daughter and father seek strength and solace across international and emotional divides in Nayeri’s novel, rooted in the Arab Spring uprisings and the European migrant crisis. Niloofar Hamidi and her father, Bahman, have seen each other four times since she and her mother fled Iran in 1987. In years as a refugee followed by cultural isolation in her youth, Niloo insulates herself from her family’s foibles and failings. Her independence leaves her empty, adrift in Amsterdam and losing touch with her family and heritage. In contrast, Bahman spends years in Iran seeking out shelter between doomed-to-fail relationships and an opium addiction that renders him increasingly toxic and dependent. Niloo’s new friendship with Persian asylum-seekers and Iran’s political crises of the early millennium crack the delicate stasis of their lives. Niloo must decide if the sense of commonality and empathy she shares with her refugee friends can extend to her father. Nayeri’s prose sings while moving nimbly with equal parts seriousness and humor. And by the bittersweet conclusion, readers may find themselves longing for the strength to say that they, too, “tore something precious from the clenched fist of the universe.” Agent: Kathleen Anderson, Anderson Literary. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2017
Release date: 07/11/2017
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