Trans(re)lating House One.
Missaghi’s lyrical, meditative debut merges fiction, poetry, and critical study to explore Iran’s history and volatile present. An unnamed woman catalogues the statues of figures from the Persian Constitutional Revolution that are steadily disappearing from Tehran, reflecting on what their absence says about the enduring value of sacrifice for the greater good. After encountering a mysterious woman who slips her a note reading “Keep looking for the bodies,” the protagonist begins writing annotations of the protesters who died in the aftermath of the 2009 election. As her archive grows, the narrator’s project hinges on two questions: “How does death define the experience of life?” and “How to translate loss into language?” Between entries, readers glimpse the public lives of women in teahouses, art galleries, and city buses, and enter into a rich dream world that “gains materiality” through the protagonist’s methodical documentation. Missaghi mines a range of literary sources, quoting from Claire Lispector and Sigmund Freud, and notes formal inspiration from Roberto Bolaño’s harrowing description of missing and murdered women in 2666
, though the result is less a novel than a bravura exhibition of writing as performance art. This will appeal to fans of mixed-genre experiments, such as works by Lyn Hejinian and Anne Carson. (Feb.)