Tag-Archive for ◊ right time ◊

• Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Kader Abdolah was born in Arak, Iran in 1954. His real name is Hossein Sadjadi Ghaemmaghami Farahaniand his pen name is a combined pseudonym in memory of his two executed friends from the resistance. He is the author of novels, short stories and non-fiction as well as being a columnist and poet. From an early age Kader Abdolah wanted to become a writer like his forebear, Ghaemmaghami Farahani.

While studying physics at Teheran University, Abdolah joined an underground left wing movement against the dictatorship of the Shah and later against the authoritarian Khomeini regime.

He wrote articles in an illegal journal and while still in Iran, secretly published two books describing what life was like under the Khomeini rule. He escaped in 1985 and three years later was accepted, at the invitation of the United Nations, as a political refugee in Holland.

Kader Abdolah was quick at mastering the language of his host country as much as writing all his work in Flemish. He received many honours and awards: The Golden Donkey Ear prize in 1994, the Edgar du Perron prize in 2000 for My Father’s Notebook which was first published in Dutch in 2000 and then in English in 2006. He received the 2008 decoration de chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He was also Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 2000 and awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Groningen in 2009. He currently lives in Delft in Holland.

After escaping Iran, Ishmael, the main character and narrator of the novel, like the author himself, becomes a political refugee in the Netherlands. While in exile he receives a parcel containing the notebook that had been written in cuneiform script by his half illiterate deaf-mute father, Aga Akbar, the talented tapestry mender and the illegitimate son of an Iranian nobleman and servant mother. Aga Akbar was acquainted with these scriptures when he was sent by his uncle to copy the three thousand-year-old ancient cuneiform inscriptions chiseled on a cave wall on Saffron Mountain.

These scriptures narrate the story of the first Persian king in history, king Cyrus, who lived 2500 years ago. The author relates historical facts: We are informed that several years later the reign of king Cyrus was followed by the Qajar dynasty which ended in 1921 with a coup d’état staged by Reza Khan. Reza Khan declared himself the new king of Persia and established the Pahlavi Kingdom. He was in turn followed by his son Mohamed Reza Pahlavi in 1941 and then by his prime minister, Mohamed Mosadeq, from 1951 to 1953. Ayatollah Khomeini follows in 1979 and the war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq is also mentioned.

Ishmael decides to translate his father’s undecipherable work of a lifetime into Dutch. He feels it is his duty to do this as a painful, nostalgic, fond commemoration to his deceased father and his lost motherland. Throughout the novel, Ishmael recounts a double biography: his father’s life story combined with his own. He also writes about the political and social situation in Iran.

Aga Akbar was about nine years old when his mother died. His uncle, Kazem Khan, who looked after him, realised that his nephew couldn’t read or write. He decided to encourage him by giving him a notebook and asked him to “scribble something”, at least “one page every day. Or maybe just a couple of sentences”, which he did.

My Father’s Notebook blends facts, autobiography and fiction. The novel is about the intertwined past and present of Persian culture going back thousands of years. There are the myths, poetry, geography, religion and unique rich traditions on one side and the depiction of the twentieth century life in Iran on the other. It is also about the unconditional tender love between a son and his disabled father, despite their differences.

The author’s constant navigation between the enchanting past tarnished by Iran’s present bitter reality and his new life in exile in the Netherlands, brings two parallel worlds into focus and in complete opposition due to their entirely different cultures and history – conservative Muslim Iran on the one side and secular Holland on the other.

The novel ends on a sad note tinted with a ray of hope. Golden Bell disappears and her father, Aga Akbar, who accompany her in escape is found dead by a shepherd on a cold snowy mountain. Nevertheless, Golden Bell might still be asleep in the Saffron Mountain waiting to be woken at the right time to witness a new world of justice and freedom in her country. Just like the people mentioned in The Holy Koran in the Surat “The Cave” to which the author refers to in the novel’s prologue and epilogue.

An emotionally poignant story which gives an insight into the humanitarian problems relating to political refugees and their sufferings after being uprooted from their beloved homeland by repressive regimes.

Category: Book Reviews  | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  | Leave a Comment
• Saturday, March 03rd, 2007

Audrey Niffenegger was born in June 1963 in south Haven Michigan. She grew up in Evanston, Illinois, which is the first suburb north of Chicago. She is a spinster with a permanent boy friend, a writer and an artist.

She obtained a BFA in 1985 from the school of The Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA in 1991 from Northwestern University.

She is a full time professor in the Interdisciplinary Book Arts MFA program at the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts, where she teaches writing, letterpress printing, and fine edition book production.

Audrey Niffenegger loved writing books and illustrating them since she was a young girl, as a part-time.

Her first book was about an imaginary road trip that she went on with The Beatles (the pop group). She was eleven years old when she wrote and illustrated this book.

But Niffenegger’s first real book is The Time Traveler’s Wife published in 2003. It was a bestseller when it came out.

She says: “The title came to me out of the blue, and from the title sprang the characters, and from the characters came the story… I got the title first, and played around with it for quite a long time, slowly evolving the characters in my head. I wrote the end before anything else, and then began to write scenes as they occurred to me.
The Time Traveler’s Wife was written in a completely different order than the one it finally took. I understood early on that it would be organized in three sections, and that the basic unit was the scene, not the chapter. It has a rather chaotic feel to it, especially at the beginning, and that is deliberate-there is a slow piecing together, a gradual accumulation of story, that mimics the experience of the characters. I made a lot of notes about the characters. I had two timelines to help me stay organized, but no outline of the plot.”

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a love story in a science fiction setting.

Clare and Henry love each other very dearly. Clare knows that she is destined to marry Henry, which creates an element of fatalism in the story.

They have to live with each other, go through the every day tasks, Clare being a free- lance artist, and Henry De Tumble a librarian in the famous Newberry Library in Chicago, while overcoming Henry’s genetic disorder called Chrono-Displacement Order. Which whisks him around in time. He disappears against his own will, to find himself transiting somewhere in a different year at any time or season.

For Clare to have Henry appearing and disappearing without any notice, spontaneously, and unpredictably, when he is needed, is quite a challenge for her love. She fears the consequences of Henry’s disappearance since she doesn’t know each time he comes back how that is going to affect her life in real time, according to whether he is returning from the past or the future.

Periodically, Henry finds himself travelling in time, faced with very emotional and sometimes dangerous situations in his existence. He is struggling to keep his sanity and is coping with his disease quite well.

Like Tamino and Pamina in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Clare and Henry had to undergo the Love Test in order to come out of it worthy of each other.

Niffenegger says:” I wanted to write about a perfect marriage that is tested by something outside the control of the couple.”

But then, The Time Traveler’s Wife is not only about love, it’s also about the notion of time, about the endless waiting, which is one of the themes in the novel we discover in the prologue.

” I wanted people to think about the intimacy of time, how ineffable it is, how it shapes us. I wanted to write about waiting, but since waiting is essentially a negative (time spent in the absence of something) I wrote about all the things that happen around the waiting.”

Clare is six years old when she meets Henry for the first time, while Henry has travelled back thirty-six years to meet Clare. But then, when they get married Clare is twenty-three and Henry thirty- one.
They both have to be patient in order to fulfil their destiny, and to prove that no matter how long it takes nothing alter their passion for each other.

Henry summarizes his love for Clare in the letter she is meant to read after his death: “ Clare, I want to tell you, again, I love you. Our love has been the thread through the labyrinth, the net under the high-wire walker, the only real thing in this strange life of mine that I could ever trust.”

Clare on the other hand, carries on living patiently waiting for the right time when Henry will come to her, when she is in her eighties, and takes her with him. Henry had seen that day and told her about it.

Niffenegger likes to go into the minute details in order to bring some life and plenty of essence to her story. We learn about different places in Chicago, about the pop groups of the time, about the taste of various characters. Even the couple’s sex life is described in details.

The author says in one of her interviews: “I am interested in mutants, love, death, amputation, sex, and time (the themes of my novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife)

She has also written two other books. The Three Incestuous Sisters, a 176- page graphic novel or “novel in pictures” as she calls it. And The Adventuress published 1st September 2006.

The actors Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston bought the rights to the film, which is going to be released in 2008.

In an interview, Audrey Niffenegger was asked: “How much of Clare or Henry is you?
The answer was: “Contrary to popular belief, not much. I died my hair red as a way of saying goodbye to Clare, as I was finishing the book. She makes very different art from mine, and she’s much quieter and more patient. Henry and I share a quirky sense of humour and a taste for punk, but not much else. First novels are often said to be thinly disguised autobiography. This one uses my places and things I know something about (libraries, paper making) but alas, this is not my life, and these characters are not me.