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Foreigner

by Nahid Rachlin

In this novel about the experiences of es¬trangement, Feri, a woman in her thirties, returns for a visit to the house of her father in Iran. Almost immediately, she is stunned by her sense of alienation from her background. The daily life that is so natural to her family seems to her disordered and without purpose. Women are treated as servants, and customs seem even more backward than before. Time takes forever to pass. 'Unexpectedly, Feri discovers that her mother, who had abandoned her as a child-for a religious calling, Feri thought-had in fact run away with a man. The mother, herself now abandoned, is living in poverty. Feri longs to find her. In the ancient town where her mother lives, time is even more frozen. But gradually, what had appeared purposeless now seems com¬forting. Mother and daughter reach out to one another and shape the fragments of past years. At the same time, in flashbacks, we begin to understand Feri's life in America: her color¬less marriage, the pressures of her job as a research biologist, her loneliness behind the tidy facade of suburban life. The discovery of her mother, delving deeper into the past, encounters with a young doctor-all help to crack the protective wall Feri has built around herself. Finally, when Feri's husband comes to seek her, she is afraid to relinquish her new emotional contentment. Eventually, decisions will have to be made. But, for now, the threads of past and present are once again joined.

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