Kader Abdolah left Iran as a political refugee, having been part of a leftist political party that opposed first the Shah and then the ayatollahs. He has lived in the Netherlands since 1988 and My Father’s Notebook is actually a translation (by Susan Massotty) from Dutch. Despite that, I’m counting it for Iran for the Read The World challenge.
The story is narrated by a Iranian political refugee living in the Netherlands, who tells the story of his father, a deaf-mute carpet mender, over the period that includes the coming of the Shahs and the Islamic revolution. I guess we have to assume that there is an element of autobiography here, but I have no idea how much. The book combines a nostalgia for an apparently simpler time, before the politics of Iran got so messy, with a portrayal of a family, and particularly a father-son relationship, caught up in dangerous politics.
I found it weirdly insubstantial. I whipped through it in a couple of days, and found it likeable enough, but not much more than that. Easy to read, easy to forget. It has a kind of sub-magical realism thing going on: not much actual magic, but a certain dwelling on the colourful and peculiar. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t particularly grab me. Or perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood.
» The image, ‘Some Iranian patterns…’, is © François Bouchet and used under a CC by-nc-nd licence.
4 replies on “My Father’s Notebook by Kader Abdolah”
I’ve been counting refugees, expatriates and others who lived for a substantial time in their country, then went elsewhere. Most from Africa are writing in French.
My “Iran” was The Complete Persepolis: http://shoshanapnw.livejournal.com/?skip=15#item50540
Yes, it’s certainly Iranian enough to qualify. I think I could have probably found a better book for a country as large and culturally, politically and historically interesting as Iran, but it was in the house, but never mind.