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Together Tea Paperback – May 21, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Original edition (May 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062236806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062236807
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Joining a growing list of Middle Eastern American immigration novels is Kamali’s lively debut about one Iranian family making the difficult adjustment to life in the U.S. Parviz and Darya; their 10-year-old daughter, Mina; and her two older brothers came to New York City in 1982, when Iraq began dropping bombs on Iran. Fifteen years later, Darya has given up her dream of becoming a mathematician, using her skills, instead, to calculate statistics pertaining to available Iranian bachelors for Mina, assigning points for everything from good teeth to graduate degrees. Mina is exasperated with her mother’s matchmaking, and disillusioned with business school. She concludes she desperately needs a break, and tells her parents she wants to journey to Iran and rediscover the country they left behind. Darya wants to accompany her daughter, so off they go—hoping to reaffirm Mina’s roots and perhaps strengthen their relationship as well. Kamali perfectly captures the sights, sounds, and smells of Tehran as relatives celebrate with one extravagant party after the other. Humor, romance, and tradition all combine in an enjoyable chick-lit tale, Iranian style. --Deborah Donovan

Review

“Marjan Kamali’s thoughtful novel presents the story of a young Iranian woman’s coming of age in modern America and her mother’s parallel journey from the old world to the new. Kamali’s writing spans oceans yet depicts a common humanity—a lovely work.” (Rishi Reddi, award-winning author of Karma and Other Stories)

“Compassionate, funny, and wise, Together Tea is a treasure of a novel. Marjan Kamali creates a wonderfully loving and real story about a mother and daughter, and their complicated cultural identity. Its remarkable scope-from 1970s Tehran to 1990s New York-is beautifully rendered.” (Jill Davis, bestselling author of Girls' Poker Night)

“Smart and witty, with characters so dear you want to pack your suitcase and travel with them wherever they can take you. How lucky I feel to have been given this baklava-delicious gift of Persian immersion from a New York point of view.” (Elinor Lipman)

“Sparkling dialogue and warm characters make Kamali’s debut novel perfect for book clubs.” (Kirkus)

“Lyrical, vivid, and warm...Although there are differences in Mina’s and Darya’s American experiences, the author effectively evokes the pull both women feel toward Iran. She creates empathy for a people forced to live one life in public and another privately.” (Publishers Weekly)

“[A] lively debut...Kamali perfectly captures the sights, sounds, and smells of Tehran. Humor, romance, and tradition all combine in an enjoyable chick-lit tale, Iranian style.” (Booklist)

Customer Reviews

The book is humorous, with well developed characters.
michie_sd
A beautiful, warm family story told with heart and style.
New York Reader
You see the struggles, the love among family members.
MTA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joy Cagil on August 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
Together Tea is a poignant immigration experience, a mother-daughter relationship, and a culture-clash mixed with family dynamics story.

The setting is mid 90s in the US where the story opens with a clash between an American-educated daughter, Mina, and Darya, her American-Iranian mother who hasn't quite internalized her new culture. The mother Darya's quest in life is to get her daughter married to a successful Iranian, but the daughter is annoyed with her mother's matchmaking efforts.

When Mina wants to visit Iran again, Darya insists on accompanying her. This sets up the catalyst for the path to resolution of the story.

Thus, after establishing the family's story in the US, there is a throwback in the novel to an earlier time in Iran, starting with the last years of the Shah and the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war. The story then returns to the present time, after clarifying the roots of the family dynamics in Iran, and it underlines the repressive regime's effects on the entire country and its one-time resident- tourists.

The ending is happy enough with everyone continuing life in more contented spirits and with greater tolerance and understanding of each other.

The success of this novel lies in its superb characterization, making the reader empathize with almost any character. The descriptions of the setting and customs are also told clearly and remarkably well. Insertions of Persian words and phrases, too, add color to the author's almost poetic storytelling.

I recommend this novel because it is a lesson in seeing other cultures as they are, instead of judging them in a hostile manner, and also because the storytelling and the characterizations are highly skillful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By TarheelRedSox on June 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Together Tea brings a lot of elements that I personally love in a book -- humor, family dynamics, vivid descriptions, and a twist ending. Kamali's debut novel has all of these elements but is so much more. It's not a long book, so all of the words including the Persian words sprinkled liberally throughout are meaningful to the overall story. The raw emotions set against the tumultuous background of the Iranian Revolution make for a compelling tale. Despite the serious backdrop this is a fun read -- with the carefree tone of a Judy Blume book and that pitch perfect perspective of the immigrant/first generation experience (a la Jhumpa Lahiri). Special mention must be made of the sumptuous descriptions of Persian dishes which give special insight into the hospitality and care of the Persian culture which we think we know, but don't really know at all. No matter what your background, you will fall in the love with the characters and want to read the book over and over just to spend time with them again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By KK CT on July 5, 2013
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Marjan Kamali has written a magnificent and poignant first novel. A family of five from Iran emigrates to the U.S. following the loss of their grandmother in the market place due to an Iraqi bomb in 1978. Mina is 10 years old and we see how both she and Darya, her mother adapt to the American culture and yet maintain their Persian roots. You will be consumed with the mother daughter dynamics that parallel all cultures. You will laugh, cry and identify with their relationship. When Mina is 25 years old, she and her mother return to Tehran. Marjan reflects so much of the country's sights and sounds to the reader as they visit with their relatives who stayed and endure the war effected years. I look forward to future works from Marjan and will pass this along to my daughter and her daughters, who at thirteen may reflect on this in years to come.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Allison Barlow on November 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a delightful, uplifting, humorous novel that I loved reading. It shares what is good about humanity, families, and provides a window into the Iranian culture that we don't often see because of the radicals who control the country. I found myself wrapped up in the stories of growing up, the struggles of dating, relationships, making decisions, war, differences, and similarities. The great part was humor was laced throughout these topics. This book was very well written. I didn't want it to end. It's very charming and I could invite readers of all ages to read this because it honors humanity in a very clean way. Thank you to Marjan Kamali for opening my eyes to the beautiful Persian culture!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MTA on December 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a beautiful, touching story! The author was able to develop the characters so that you felt you knew them. She gave you an understanding of Iranian people and customs. The family had escaped the war and terror in Iran by moving to America, but in their soul they remained Iranian. You see the struggles, the love among family members. It is a happy story, laced with realism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on July 30, 2013
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Marjan Kamali tells an unexpected story in a delightful and elegant way. For a first time author, this story is full and complete. Her characters are well developed and the story unfolds in a natural manner that keeps you engaged and wanting to turn the page. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as did everyone in my book club!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lachula on March 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this novel, about an Iranian family that came over to the USA after the grandmother is killed by a bomb during the start of the Iranian revolution in the 1970's.
I thought this was going to be just a fun light read, but this book had so much more to it. I saw it as a study of choices, and in a way the guilt, happiness and sadness that comes with those choices.
The pull between the homeland and the adopted land, the traditions of their homeland being kept up even while not there.
This story mainly focuses on the mother/daughter relationship and the pull between the modern day practices of the USA and those that the mother cannot forget from her life in Iran.
Part way through the story, In the 1990's mother and daughter return for a trip back to Iran, to visit relatives that they were not able to say goodbye to when they left the country. Daughter Mina, wants to find out who she is and what is important to her, and the mother Darya, has never forgotten her life there. The time in Iran is rich in family, food, visual images of the beauty of the country, which I loved to read about, but as well the dangers of being back there at that time, with all of the strict rules applied to women. Here on this journey Mina is at last able to find a happy medium between her two worlds. I in a way could relate to her feelings of not really belonging to either country, as I was also born in one place but raised in another.
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More About the Author

Marjan Kamali was born in Turkey to Iranian parents. She holds an MFA in creative writing from New York University and an MBA from Columbia University. Her debut novel, Together Tea, is a 2014 finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award and a Must Read for the Commonwealth. Her work has also been a top finalist in Glimmer Train's Fiction Open and the Asian American Short Story Contest.

Together Tea was published by Ecco Books/HarperCollins in 2013 and has been translated into several languages including German, Italian, Norwegian, Czech, and Slovak.

Visit the author at marjankamali.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/MarjanKamaliAuthor


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