Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, September 10, 2007

Caspian Rain pours out pages of sweet sorrow

Gina B. Nahai's fourth novel,Caspian Rain, takes place in pre-Revolutionary Iran and is narrated by Yaas,the 12 year old daughter of Bahar and Omid,who come from similar and yet very different social classes of Iranian Jews. Omid's family is wealthy and more blended into the Muslin middle class while Bahar grew up in South Tehran,near the old Jewish ghetto. Her family has the added bonus of eccentricity,such as one son who spends his whole life waiting to be discovered as a star by hanging out in cafes all day and the ghost of a brother who quietly but firmly haunts the household.

Omid literally spotted Bahar in the street one day and begin a formal courtship,partly motivated by nearly being left at the altar by a fiancee who found him to be too emotionally cold to take as a husband.

Bahar sees this marriage as a chance for her to become a"person of substance"but the social obligations and stigma of her background quickly rise up to rid Bahar of such notions right off the bat. Nonetheless,she still strives to be accepted but that becomes even harder when Omid falls in love with Niyaz,a well to do woman descended from Muslim nobility who is already the mistress of one wealthy man and is willing to accept Omid's attentions as well.

Yaas already feels the pressure of divided loyalties within her family,along with spotting the Ghost Brother near her home,when her hearing begins to fail her. Her grades in school suffer and Bahar first dwells in denial of her daughter's condition but winds up taking Yaas to numbers of doctors/healers,hoping for some sort of cure that can be done without the risk of detection from society. That proves to be impossible,in more ways than one.

This is the first time I've ever read anything by Gina B. Nahai and I have to say that it made quite an impression on me. Yes,this is a sad story but told in such a beautifully compelling manner that you can't help but keep on reading to find out the fates of these sadly doomed characters. Nahai uses words and images like an expert weaver would to create an elegant canvas that captures a moment in time that even those who weren't even born yet can appreciate and marvel at.

Even tho Caspian Rain is set in a certain time and place,it is threaded with a good number of universal themes;family secrets,unspoken but fiercely enforced class systems,children who suffer for the sins of adults and adults who yearn for freedom but still feel trapped by their upbringing. This novel is ideal for reading groups and deserves all of the word of mout praise it can get. Don't overlook this one,folks. The book will be out in stores by September 14(or even sooner)and has the potential to be a sister companion to the Kite Runner. It can,however,stand very well on it's own merits and hopefully will gather the audience it richly deserves.

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