cover image The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons: Selected Stories

The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons: Selected Stories

Goli Taraghi, trans. from the Persian by Sarah Khalili. Norton, $27.50 (320p) ISBN 978-0-393-06333-2

For Western readers, this fascinating collection might be most absorbing for the glimpses of daily life in Iran it provides, both in times of trouble and during more ordinary occurrences, like dance class for teenage girls in 1953 or a household antique sale during the 1979 revolution. Taraghi, born in Tehran in 1939 and currently living in Paris, also conveys the heartache and ambivalence of life in exile. The cumulative result is textured and nuanced, reflecting many different angles of upheaval and separation. In “Amina’s Great Journey,” an Iranian mother of two who flees to France during the revolution witnesses the remarkable transformation of her maid, a Bangladeshi woman whose abusive husband controls her from oceans away until unpredictable circumstances change the situation. In “Gentleman Thief,” a college student uncovers how some people who could not leave Iran after the Shah’s fall made do. Though overlong interior monologues slow the pace of a few stories, Taraghi’s knack for dialogue feels fresh and intimate throughout. Overall, the reader is left with an acute understanding of what all of these characters have endured. (Oct.)