cover image The Walking

The Walking

Laleh Khadivi. Bloomsbury, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-59691-699-9

Lyrical and restrained, Khadivi's second novel (after 2010's The Age of Orphans) spotlights the universal undercurrents of immigration through the exodus of two Kurdish brothers, Saladin and Ali, in the midst of the Iranian Revolution. She introduces a collective voice that repeats throughout the work, its cadence true to the fitful mindset of Iranians as Ayatollah Khomeini replaces the Shah. Shifting between reflections of those who chose to stay and those who fled, Khadivi's groupoverview sections assume the function of an omnipotent chorus, orienting brothers' struggles within the greater philosophical and psychological framework of immigration. The chapters devoted to their journeys soar on oft-haunting, always precise imagery, such as when several Kurdish men's bodies fall puppet-like "as somewhere in the sky, a million threads were cut." After these Kurdish men fall, Ali leads his younger brother away before they can be killed for refusing to follow orders. Khadivi moves with some grace between the brothers' scramble farther from home and the near future, which sees Saladin adjusting to his new home%E2%80%94his dreamland, Los Angeles%E2%80%94fighting his way through the freshlystirred American distrust of Iranians. This second of three novels brings a delicate touch to the emotional intricacies involved in both leaving one's homeland, and in staying behind. (Mar.)