The Drum Tower

Farnoosh Moshiri. Black Heron (, $25.95 (307p) ISBN 978-1-936364-06-0
Iranian-born novelist Moshiri (At the Wall of the Almighty) combines Persian history, sexual politics, and ancient lore in this gripping saga about the dissolution of an aristocratic Iranian family on the eve of the 1979 revolution. Set largely in an ancestral residence called the Drum Tower—“the biggest and oldest house in Tehran”—the story follows Talkhoon, one of two girls at the end of a line of government officials stretching back to the time of Nader Shah in the 18th century. Orphaned and deemed “crazy” following a failed suicide attempt, the 16-year-old Talkhoon becomes a captive (and possible future wife) of Assad, a volatile man thought to be her uncle. While Assad, a member of the Revolutionary Guard, sets about converting the Drum Tower into a headquarters—plundering its treasures and evicting Talkhoon’s grandmother, Khanum-Jaan—Talkhoon plots her escape, even as she laments the fact that she will have to leave behind her comatose grandfather, Baba-Ji, a scholar obsessed with a mythical bird called the Simorgh. Talkhoon also ponders the whereabouts of her older sister, Taara, whose letters inform Talkhoon that she is both homeless and pregnant. Though Moshiri fails to develop Talkhoon’s professed and oft-referenced madness fully, she creates a memorable heroine. By shaving her head and dressing in men’s clothes to aid her escape, Talkhoon combats not only the oppression of theocratic government but also the strictures of gender. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/25/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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