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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.
"A rare, intimate look at Iranians. . . . I have read [this book] four times by now, and each time I have discovered new layers in it." --Anne Tyler, New York Times Book Review "Nahid Rachlin has an intimate insider's knowledge of present-day everyday Iran -- of people and places, houses, streets, and families -- and she writes of them with a clarity of perception and style that makes them instantly recognizable and even homely and familiar to the reader." -- Ruth Prawer Jhabvala "Rachlin's prose carefully understates and suggests her heroine's awakening to a pervasive atmosphere of menace and sensuality; residue of a culture she thinks she has abandoned, but which continues to claim her." -- Bruce Allen, Chicago Tribune "Foreigner gently raises new as well as timeless questions about an unhappy woman's faith and freedom." -- The New Yorker "Conveys the texture of extended family, the stress of modernization, the strain of Moslem rigidity as well as the harmony of nature, of dust and carpets, fruits, sweets, tea, fine rice and gossip. Always gossip." -- Eden Lipson, "Special Edition," WNET/Thirteen
Fleeing a neocolonial oil town in southern Iran as Khomeini rises to power, the Ellahi family emigrates to the US, where Nora and her adopted brother Jahan struggle to end their incestuous attachment, get through college, and forge independent lives. Confronted by anti-Iranian hostility, Jahan is drawn to Islam, ultimately going back to join the Iranian army to fight Saddam Hussein, while Nora takes advantage of the greater opportunities and personal freedom for women here.Nahid Rachlin is the Iranian-American author of Veils, Foreigner, Married to a Stranger, and The Heart's Desire. She teaches at New School University and the Unterberg Poetry Center in New York.
When Minou Hakini marries a man of her own choosing--an intellectual and a radical--and moves to Abadan, a thriving oil town near the Iraqi border, she imagines her life will be adventurous and liberating. Before long, however, she becomes aware of her husband's suspicious liaisons and dangerous activities. Her struggle to forge her own identity as a woman in contemporary Iran is charged with passion, anger, and finally a need to escape. Nahid Rachlin is an Iranian who lives in New York and teaches at Barnard College. She is the author of Foreigner and The Heart's Desire, both novels, and Veils, a collection of short stories.
For many years, heartache prevented Nahid Rachlin from turning her sharp novelist's eye inward: to tell the story of how her own life diverged from that of her closest confidante and beloved sister, Pari. Growing up in Iran, both refused to accept traditional Muslim mores, and dreamed of careers in literature and on the stage. Their lives changed abruptly when Pari was coerced by their father into marrying a wealthy and cruel suitor. Nahid narrowly avoided a similar fate, and instead negotiated with him to pursue her studies in America. When Nahid received the unsettling and mysterious news that Pari had died after falling down a light of stairs, she traveled back to Iran-now under the Islamic regime-to find out what happened to her truest friend, confront her past, and evaluate what the future holds for the heartbroken in a tale of crushing sorrow, sisterhood, and ultimately, hope. .