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Persian Silence

Iran 1978. Violent riots in Tehran against the shah. The pro-Western country becomes an Islamic republic ruled by Ayatollah Khomeini. Pari, a cute, clever and captivating Jewish teenager is in love with her cousin Mourad Levy, and they get engaged. Like any lively girl of her age, Pari is dying to don a wedding dress and become one with her beloved.

The fall of the shah and the Islamic revolution force the couple repeatedly to postpone their wedding. Eventually they do get married, but as Jew-hatred worsens in Tehran and extreme Islamism makes their dear city into a strange and menacing place, they decide to run away. By now they have two small children, but they are determined to find a new, safe and free place to live.

Their escape route is filled with danger, anxiety and breathtaking drama. With their little boy and baby girl, leaving their parents behind, Pari and Mourad flee across fields in remote villages and climb the mountain ranges of Kurdistan on horseback, finally crossing into Turkey to fly to Israel.

From the tapestry of lives that emerges and the personal stories of Pari and Mourad, we get a picture of Iranian Jewry’s relations with their Muslim neighbors under the shah and in the days of the ayatollahs’ regime. Sarah Aharoni also gives us a wonderful portrait of the traditional ways of life in Tehran, mixed with modern western influences. She depicts the character of the city, its charm and beauty contrasting with its poverty and simplicity; the people’s longing for change, the hopes they pinned on the new ruler, and the inevitable disillusionment.

Title Persian Silence
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Yedioth Ahronoth
No. Pages 343pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Shtika Parsit
  • “Current events in Iran make Persian Silence engrossing and compelling … Sara Aharoni’s novel is a Persian delight … After the colorful beginning, the main part of the book is an iridescent white-hot core … Just as Tolkien fans recognize words from the languages used in the kingdoms that the beloved British author invented, I understand the Persian words that I heard my parents use and that Aharoni weaves naturally into the plot… Aharoni executes the task heroically.”

    Ronit Purian, Haaretz
  • “In recent years, Sara Aharoni has been in the front row of the best Israeli writers, and her literary fingerprint can be found stamped on the consciousness of many readers. In a clear and accurate voice she spins personal tales that connect with a historical background. It is a unique voice that transports the reader each time on a riveting new journey … The author weaves the captivating story of Pari and Mourad with great sensitivity and skill … She masterfully recounts the way of life of the Jews in Iran and the fabric of their relations with their Muslim neighbors … A mesmerizing, dynamic, eventful and intriguing novel. It is written in rich language, peppered with similes and metaphors … The prose is polished and engrossing, providing a a good read as well as information about what happened in Iran at the time of the revolution.”