Negar Naseh portrays with calmness in “A Handful of Wind”

Negar Naseh (born 1984) works as a doctor and debuted in 2013 with
Negar Naseh (born 1984) works as a doctor and debuted in 2013 with “Under all denna vinter”, a novel that was nominated for Borås Tidning’s debutant prize. In 2017, her second novel, “The Displaced”, came out. Now her third novel, “A Handful of Wind” is published.

The green sea. So calls the left-wing activist Vandad the friend Minou’s flamboyant balcony i Tehran. It is the year of the revolution, 1978, and pregnant Minou and her little son Nima have almost stopped going out. From the street, shouts and the roar of water cannons can be heard. The activist friends occasionally seek shelter on the balcony – here they are surrounded by fragrant cress, mint, tarragon and coriander.

In his third novel A handful of wind leaves Negar Naseh the tight relationship drama format for a family story, branching across decades and countries. Vandad is a branch that is torn off early. The novel is dedicated to the victims of the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988, then Khomeini’s brutal morality guards took over from the shah’s dreaded security police.

The left activists in Iran fought against the shah’s corrupt elite rule. What you got, after the Islamist coup, was sharia law and compulsory veiling – nationalism instead of internationalism. So the country was drained of free-minded and intellectual citizens. A diaspora that is now found scattered in the USA, France, England, Sweden.

Naseh’s novel has its heart in this trauma, but it is not characterized by bitterness. What emerges most strongly is the force of life: how acts of care, strong family ties and Persian food culture can hold souls together, make them not break. I like the calmness of the portrayal, which dampens emotions rather than heightens them. The movement of the gaze between the details of everyday life and the flight of clouds over a common sky is enough.

Minou’s husband has gone before to Sweden and after a while she and the children will follow. We later meet the son Nima as an adult in Uppsala, a homosexual man with eating disorders and a fixation on birds. The family is his safety net and the psych ward is humane. The novel avoids the temptation to simply explain his difficulties with childhood violence or later experiences of Swedish racism. A life is so big and tangled. Even the novelist may not know everything about Nima.

This that the persons allowed be, without projected models of explanation, gives the story a beneficent lightness. Life changes, things get better and worse and better again. In exile you can cultivate memories and spices and learn to swim in a lake with a deep bottom. Every evening there will be video calls with relatives on the other side of the seas.

Between the parts about Minous’s family, the shah’s story is woven in: his exile in Panama and then Egypt after the exile. It’s a bit odd. Sections from an interview with British ABC News allow the big political game and the former regent’s evasion of responsibility to emerge. It adds something. But the story seems to want to arouse sympathy for the shah as a tender-hearted family man and suffering cancer patient? (Naseh’s professional knowledge as a doctor leaves recent traces here).

The depiction begs us constantly activate the gaze of humanism. Not judging and hating, but seeking the good in our neighbor. This is the very nerve of life, but at the same time – can everything be reconciled? It will be up to the reader to set his own limit. When to forgive, when to cast the first stone.

Source: Then24

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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