This beautifully written debut novel by Sahar Delijani is set in Iran, covering a period between 1983 and 2011. In the pages of this powerful book, we read of the lives of a number of people caught up and changed forever by the events occurring in Iran between these years.
Following the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in the late 1970s, many thousands of the population became disillusioned with the new regime. Many decided that they needed to make their feelings and thoughts known, but their protests led to mass imprisonment, torture and execution. In “Children of the Jacaranda Tree” we follow the lives of a handful of these early protesters. We read of the impact of their arrests on their parents. We also meet and follow some of the babies and young people whose parents were imprisoned, tortured and killed in the 1980s, seeing the ways that their lives have been shaped by earlier events.
I was completely drawn in by this novel. I was stunned by the brutality of the “Brothers” and “Sisters” who worked in the prisons – not only physical cruelty inflicted upon the prisoners, but mental and emotional torture. I was truly shocked by the execution episode; it was not a detailed horrific description, but its starkness shook me to the core. It was interesting to see how the younger generation dealt with their history and how it impacted on their lives.
This is a book that I would recommend reading in hardback or paperback, as there are plenty of characters to remember and it’s not always easy to skip back to check on a name or link when reading an eBook. Having said that, for me, this has been a powerful, shocking, but ultimately hopeful read. I shall never again be able to disregard events in Iran – this insight into the personal lives of Iranians has given much food for thought. This is a book that I will not forget.
Sahar Delijani was born in Tehran in 1983 and grew up in California, where she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives with her husband in Turin, Italy. Children of the Jacaranda Tree is her first novel.