The story of a Kurdish boy growing up within a new Iranian nation. Laleh Khadivi is a major new voice in literary fiction.
Kurdistan, Persia. A village high in the Zagros mountains. A small green-eyed boy wrestles free from his mother and climbs atop a straw and mud hut to gaze at the dusty landscape; the jagged mountains and azure sky, the cattle in the distance. With his arms stretched out beside him he pretends to be a bird, to lift up and soar over this land: the land of his fathers and forefathers. Kurdish land.
Soon after he is ritually initiated into manhood, messengers from the hills bring whispers of war; rumours that the Shah's army is moving from village to village, stamping out any tribal rebellion that may stand in the way of the creation of a unified 'Iran'. Just nine years old, the boy must stand alongside his men and fight for their land.
Years later, Reza Pahlavi Khourdi can only faintly recall the brutal murder of his father and cousins. Orphaned on the bloody battlefield, conscripted into the great column of the army and given a new name, he has quickly risen up the ranks, proving both his prowess in battle and allegiance to the Shah's troops. Now in Tehran, Reza is about to marry to a beautiful, educated, city girl, and become a Capitian.
But there are stirrings within his heart. He will soon be sent west to be the Shah's servant in Kermanshah, the land of his birth, and a figurehead of modernization.
At once rich and bleak, The Age of Orphans unleashes a tapestry of untold horrors and pleasures, of blood and smoke, hopes, dreams and desires. It is a profound and darkly poetic story of a land roughly sewn together under the ambitious imagining of a nation, and of the life of a boy, whose identity does not, can not, unite with this vision.
About the Author
Laleh Khadivi was born in Esfahan Iran in 1977. In the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution her family fled, first to Belgium and Puerto Rico, finally settling in Canada and the United States. She graduated from Reed College in 1998 and moved to New York where she began to direct documentary films for A+E, HBO and Showtime. The Age of Orphans is the first novel in a projected trilogy that will trace three generations of a Kurdish family as they make their way to the United States and undergo the profound transformations of the immigrant experience. Based loosely on the life of her own family, Laleh Khadivi conducted extensive interviews with her extended family to get at her haunting story of displacement, exile and loss. In 2008 she received The Whiting Writers' Award.
'Bold and beautiful ... Khadivi's language is sensuous and rich ... At a time when western readers' perceptions of Iran are too often shaped by current affairs, this book and its sequels will shine a necessary light on the country's dawn, and on its people's remarkable history' Financial Times 'A heart-warming and emotional read' Stylist 'Assured and endlessly creative, Khadivi's lyrical prose gets inside the damaged psychology of the orphan, bringing his terrifying loss of identity, and a broad expanse of history, to life' Metro 'Khadivi's debut novel, remarkable for its beautiful and brutal poetry, tells the story of a lost Kurdish child and the history of "this invisible thing called Iran"' Independent