Life in Iran TodayThe Walking, by Laleh Khadivi

The Walking, by Laleh Khadivi

-

Independent: In 1979, at the age of two, Laleh Khadivi escaped the Islamic revolution in Iran with her family, emigrating to North America. Identity and exile are her natural themes, and her Kurdish roots have focused her attention so far on Kurdish Iranians.

The Independent

The flight of two Kurdish boys from Iran’s revolution drives a novel of memory and exile

In 1979, at the age of two, Laleh Khadivi escaped the Islamic revolution in Iran with her family, emigrating to North America. Identity and exile are her natural themes, and her Kurdish roots have focused her attention so far on Kurdish Iranians.

Her first novel, The Age of Orphans, commenced a trilogy, and followed the brutalisation of a Kurdish boy in Iran in 1921. Orphaned by the Shah’s army, he was abducted and taught to hate his own people. The Walking, second in the trilogy, starts in 1979 when the fundamentalist theocrat Khomeini has taken over Iran. Two Kurdish Iranian teenagers are forced to flee. The younger, Saladin, a film buff, dreams of emigrating to America, but the older, Ali, wishes to return home.

The story of the boys’ journey is related in the third person, but whispering in the background are accounts of nameless others: those left behind, those who have escaped earlier, those already settled in Los Angeles and trying to integrate. It is these susurrating voices in first-, second- and third-person (“we”, “you” and “they”), who describe the nightmare horrors of the new Iran: oppression of Jews, Baha’is, Kurds and other minorities; the screeching chastity brigade who vilify unveiled women; medieval punishments such as hanging, stoning and amputation.

They also relate the major events of the revolution: the hundreds killed in the cinema fire in Tehran (now known to have been started by fundamentalists and not, as decreed by the mullahs, by the Shah’s supporters); the American hostage crisis; the Iran-Iraq war; the tens of thousands who were imprisoned, tortured and murdered.

Khadivi is capable of lyricism and poetry, whether conjuring up nature (“the lacy chirp of birds”), elegiac feelings (“memories grow into fictions, stories from a past for which we will soon have no proof”); or sensations associated with travel (“Away from dawn in the direction of night as if the world were a chronometer”). The book is overlong, though, and slow: it’s not necessary to have a football game described, nor a description of how blindfolds on American hostages are “the exact same” as those Saladin saw in Iran, followed by an explanation of the purpose of blindfolds.

In attempting to cover both the fictional story and the facts, details of the former slip and become implausible, such as when drug smugglers offer the boys a ride across the border if they will carry drugs, despite having no papers. Credulity is stretched when poor crop-gatherers deviate into archaeological excavation, lead the boys to a dig where Saladin finds a valuable gold object, and allow the boys to keep it. Nevertheless, this is a brave and haunting book about displacement and identity.

 

Latest news

Iranian People’s Resistance Changed the Appeasement Policy

Soon after the new US government started its obligations in January 2021, hand in hand with the European governments...

Khamenei’s Disgraceful Campaign Against Piranshahr and Javanrud, Who Will Be the Loser?

On the 67th day of Iran’s revolution, the Iranian regime attempted to put a halt to the protests in...

Iran: Expensive Medicine, Cheap Human Life

A look at the equipment and weapons that the Iranian regime has been using against its people to suppress...

Who Is Abolqasem Salavati Iran Regime’s Killer Judge?

Last week, it was announced that the case of several people who were arrested during the Iranian People's uprising...

Iran Revolution Characteristics

More than two months have passed since the start of the latest round of protests in Iran against the...

Iran’s Regime Is Unable To Eradicate Protests

Totalitarian governments, whether be it a monarchy or a clerical regime, and their international supporters are pursuing the same...

Must read

Iran reformist editor out on bail: report

AFP: Iran has released on bail one of three...

Iran arrests two “fake” foreign journalists: report

Reuters: Two foreign nationals have been arrested, an Iranian...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you