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The House of the Mosque Paperback – January 31, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1847672414 ISBN-10: 1847672418 Edition: Main

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The House of the Mosque + My Father's Notebook: A Novel of Iran + The King
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate UK; Main edition (January 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847672418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847672414
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #800,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Beguiling and utterly original. It is that rare thing: a deeply political novel that informs, thrills, and moves in equal measure."  —Tahmima Anam, author, A Golden Age


"The history of Iran in the 20th century glints through . . . moving and illuminating."  —Publishers Weekly on My Father's Notebook


"An intimate portrait . . . Abdolah’s prose . . . is clean and lyrical . . . A sweeping novel that chronicles the tumultuous modern history of [Iran]."  —Kirkus Reviews on My Father's Notebook


"A lovely novel, has the cadence of a fairy tale and the clarity of truth ."  —Wall Street Journal on My Father's Notebook


"Myth and unlovely reality meet and mingle . . . Conveys the heartache of an exile who cannot help but feel a traitor."  —Christian Science Monitor on My Father's Notebook

About the Author

Kader Abdolah (a pen name created in memoriam to friends who died under the persecution of the current Iranian regime) was born in Iran in 1954. While a student of physics in Tehran, he joined a secret leftist party that fought against the dictatorship of the shah and the subsequent dictatorship of the ayatollahs, writing for an illegal journal and clandestinely publishing two books in Iran. In 1988, at the invitation of the UN, he arrived in the Netherlands as a political refugee. He now writes in Dutch and is the author of My Father's Notebook. In 2008 he was honored with Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Embassy in the Hague.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
The characters are well written.
Minke
I applaud the author for the depth of his imaginative mind, which is revealing in this story.
Calixthe
Just loved this book from start to finish.
Mary K

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By VBS on July 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
As an Iranian, who is raised in a modern family in Tehran, I am really impressed!
Part of book is not my story, but the story of old fashioned family in a small religious town. Very easy to follow (at least for me as an Iranian girl) and many of the things that happens in the book, has happened in Iran. I, myself think it was somhow a true story! I can imagine myself in the place.
It shows how religion is being paled since Islamic revolousion in Iran.
It shows why people like me moved from country and why I am so against any religion!
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Format: Paperback
In the house of the mosque, located in Senejan, Iran, the family of Aqa Jaan has lived for eight centuries. The house is currently occupied by the families of Aqa Jaan, a merchant who is the head of the city's bazaar; Alsaberi; the imam of the mosque and Aqa Shoja, the mosque's muezzin. The carpets woven by the family firm are renowned for their beauty, their patterns are drawn from the plumage of birds Aqa Jaan's wife traps on the roof of the house. This is the order of things in Senejan, in 1969: a rich past continuing into the future. The grandmothers sweep the floors each morning, and dream of travelling to Mecca. Sadiq is waiting for a suitor to knock on the door to seek her hand in marriage. In the first half of this novel, the worlds of Aqa Jaan and his family members are neatly ordered.

Except, things start changing. Aqa Jaan's nephew Shahbal, with permission, smuggles a television into the house so that Aqa Jaan and the imam can watch the moon landing. The nephew argues that the imam needs to keep in touch with the world, even if those landing on the moon are the Americans, and a television is part of the suspect civilization that the Shah is imposing on his people.

In the second half of the novel, the consequences of political unrest in Iran, both before and after the revolution of 1978-79 are being felt. Small changes at first, but then the fall of the Shah and the return of the Ayatollah destroy the established order of the house of the mosque. The world turns upside down: Shahbal backs the Islamic revolution, while Aqa Jaan's other nephew, Nosrat, a westernised film-maker, becomes a member of Khomeini's inner circle. Nothing seems predictable.

This is a complex novel, but not difficult to read.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Abigail99 on July 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I often listen to ABC radio, book reviews and this little gem came up.

I was interested to know how the Moslem think, what sort of home life they have and just how different their culture is. This book is a good insight. It is written in the era of the '60's up to and including the time of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. It takes us through this era and the changes that take place from the time of Persia under the Shah to an Islamic Republic under Khomeini by following a family's life. I wanted a greater understanding of the Moslem way of life and this book was able to do that for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Calixthe on January 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
This eerily true to life story is well written. I applaud the author for the depth of his imaginative mind, which is revealing in this story. He drew the reader into the story from the opening chapter all the way to the end.The descriptions are very vivid and gives the reader a sense of the setting that is almost real.Its depiction of religion in the way some people apply it in the every day lives of man is very revealing, bringing to mind a description I read in The Union Muzhik. The author did a great job at characterization. The compelling plot added further credibility to the quality of the story and the pacing made it a page-turner. After also reading Disciples of Fortune, I now have deep respect for authors who take us to unfamiliar settings and implant us there to the point where we relate to their stories and the characters as if we were there when everything was happening. This is a story that will strike a chord with a broad readership.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary K on January 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just loved this book from start to finish. Wonderful character building. I felt I was living in the house with the family. It gave me a great understanding of the life in Iran and the (tragic)changes brought about in the aftermath of the downfall of the shah. An excellent read.
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Format: Paperback
This is a well told story about Iran, its culture, its people, its religion and ultimately, the Islamic revolution.

It is the story of a family that lives in the house attached to a mosque in one of Iran's smaller cities. The reason I liked this book more than other historical fictions about Iran was because it takes place in a small city and gives a flavor for what life was like outside of Tehran before and after the revolution. The family at the center of this story, goes through some great times while they are considered and treated as one of the best respected families in the city. Then the discontent with the Shah begins to gain momentum and even though this is a family who encourages discontent with the Shah and they themselves want to see the Shah toppled, they become marginalized and ultimately victimized and brutalized as a wave of radicalism overtakes the country. The family suffers through some very tough, ugly times.

The author takes some liberties with the truth. For example, the fate of the "hanging judge" is not as satisfying as this book portrays it to be. He died years later, in Iran as a result of disease and old age. There are a number of other inaccuracies. So I would not read this book for any historical value, and to be fair, the author does not claim that it has any, even though many of the events did in fact take place. Nevertheless, it does a good job of conveying a way of life that most of the western world is completely unfamiliar with.

One small gripe for me was that I found the writing a bit disjointed. I certainly didn't think it's the best written book in the world or anything, but it's solid enough writing to make it a good read.
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