The Luminous Heart of Jonah S.
Gina B. Nahai. Akashic, $29.95 (380p) ISBN 978-1-61775-321-3
Like Cry of the Peacock and Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith, Nahai’s new work is a multigenerational epic of Iranian Jews. It shifts from modern L.A. to old Tehran as it follows the wealthy, influential Soleyman family. Raphael’s Son (as he is called throughout), a Soleyman bastard, in one or possibly both senses of the word, is found murdered in L.A. But is he really dead? His body has disappeared. Hated by rival family members and acquaintances alike, he could have been killed by anyone, from his long-suffering wife to any of the clients ruined by his Ponzi scheme. Nahai’s retelling of Iran’s recent history and her depiction of Iranian Jews—both in their homeland and as exiles—is eye-opening. Magical elements abound: the incandescent hearts of certain Soleyman males, the smell of the sea emitted by Elizabeth, Raphael’s Son’s aunt (whom he hoped to ruin), and the proclivity of dead Soleyman bodies to disappear. It’s a riveting tale, requiring full concentration. Readers will be well rewarded. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/04/2014