Shahrnush Parsipur is among the finest Iranian writers alive today. Her novel Touba and the Meaning of Night was published in Iran in 1989 and published in English just last year. There are currents under the surface of this book, both written and unwritten wisdom in the story of the title character’s life. Touba lives 80 years, all of which we see: she marries, divorces, remarries, seeks knowledge, looks for God, fights tradition, raises children, grows old and senile, sees two revolutions. It’s an allegory for Iran, which, as the book’s geography, is both a backdrop and as large as any of its characters. It’s a lovely and heartbreaking book.
I read this book over the course of a few days and I’m still reeling. Suffice to say, sometimes books are so good that there’s not a lot to say about them until some time has passed and the reader can step away, and such is the case with Parsipur’s novel. It’s hard to step away so quickly.