Children of the Jacaranda Tree

Kamila Shamsie in The Guardian:

Supporters-of-Mirhossein--010Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a novel with a great weight of history attached to it. This much is made explicit by the author's note that accompanies the proof copies, telling readers that this is “an attempt … to shed light on this dark moment in Iranian history, on its tales of violence, prison and death … to give voice not only to the victims of this atrocity but also to the ordeal of their families and their children”. The “dark moment” is 1988, when thousands, or tens of thousands, of political prisoners were assassinated in Iran; their number included Sahar Delijani's uncle. Her parents were fortunate to have been released from prison prior to the “purge”.

…At the centre of the web of connections are three women prisoners – Azar, who gives birth in prison; Firoozeh, who is known to have turned informant in exchange for prison privileges; Parisa, who has one child growing up outside prison and is pregnant with a second. Through these women and their families a narrative emerges that is more effective than one that cleaves to an individual. The pain of women prisoners who have to give up their children; the pain of parents and sisters who don't know what is happening to those they love who are imprisoned; the pain of letting go of the nephews and nieces you've been raising, when their mothers are finally released from prison; the pain of suppressing the truth; the pain of discovering the truth; the pain of leaving Iran, the pain of staying and the pain of return: all these are held within these linked stories.

More here.