“Aria” by Nazanine Hozar
“Here comes a sweeping saga about the Iranian revolution as it explodes - told from the ground level and the centre of chaos. A Doctor Zhivago of Iran.” - Margaret Atwood (on Twitter)
“Aria is a feminist odyssey, about a girl in a time of intolerance as the revolution in Iran is breaking out. A poised and dramatic historical novel with contemporary relevance.” - John Irving
Iran in the 1950s is wealthy in oil but riven by divisions of class, ethnicity, and religion, and its corrupt government is under foreign influence. At this volatile moment, an illiterate driver rescues a redheaded, blue-eyed baby girl who has been abandoned in a Tehran alley and names her Aria. When he can no longer care for her, he finds her a new home, setting her on an unlikely path from extreme deprivation to a life of privilege. Along the way, Aria acquires three mother figures with secrets of their own: one who abuses her, one who adopts her, and one whose role in her life is initially mysterious. At university, Aria is drawn ever further from her poverty-stricken past, until the 1979 revolution brings her various worlds violently together again. She and her friends are swept up in the excitement and danger as the shah is overthrown, but the final stage of the revolution will bring the Ayatollah Khomeini to power at the head of a brutal theocracy - just as Aria has become a mother herself.
Nazanine Hozar’s stunning debut gives us an unusually intimate view of a momentous time, through the eyes of a young woman coming to terms with the mysteries of her own past and future.
About the Author
Nazanine Hozar was born in Tehran (Iran) at the onset of the Iranian Revolution. She moved to Canada during the Iran-Iraq war.
She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and is currently working on her second novel.
“The Bastard of Istanbul” by Elif Shafak
As an Armenian American living in San Francisco, Armanoush feels like part of her identity is missing and that she must make a journey back to the past, to Turkey, in order to start living her life. Asya is a nineteen-year-old woman living in an extended all-female household in Istanbul who loves Jonny Cash and the French existentialists. The Bastard of Istanbul tells the story of their two families–and a secret connection linking them to a violent event in the history of their homeland. Filed with humor and understanding, this exuberant, dramatic novel is about memory and forgetting, about the need to examine the past and desire to erase it, and about Turkey itself.
About the Author
Elif Shafak (1971) is an awardwinning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into 50 languages. Her latest novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and chosen Blackwell’s Book of the Year. Her previous novel, The Forty Rules of Love was chosen by BBC among 100 Novels that Shaped Our World. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne’s College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow.
"American Indian Stories” by Zitkála-Šá
A groundbreaking Dakota author and activist chronicles her refusal to assimilate into nineteenth-century white society and her mission to preserve her culture.
Bright and carefree, Zitkála-Šá grows up on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota with her mother until Quaker missionaries arrive, offering the reservation’s children a free education. The catch: the children must leave their parents behind and travel to Indiana. Curious about the world beyond the reservation, Zitkála-Šá begs her mother to let her go - and her mother, aware of the advantages that an education offers, reluctantly agrees.
But the missionary school is not the adventure that Zitkála-Šá expected: the school is a strict one, her long hair is cut short, and only English is spoken. She encounters racism and ridicule. Slowly, Zitkála-Šá adapts to her environment - excelling at her studies, winning prizes for essay-writing and oration. But the price of success is estrangement from her cultural roots - and is it one she is willing to pay? Combining Zitkála-Šá’s childhood memories, her short stories, and her poetry, American Indian Stories is the origin story of an activist in the making, a remarkable woman whose extraordinary career deserves wider recognition.
About the Author
Zitkála-Šá (Lakota: “Red Bird”) (1876-1936) also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, her missionary-given and later married name, was a writer, editor, translator, musician, educator, and politica activist. She was a member of the Yankton Dakota (also known as Sioux) tribe. An accomplished violinist, writer, and politician, she co-founded the National Council of America Indians, lobbied Congress to pass the Indian Citizenship Act, and wrote the articles for The Atlantic and Harper’s, as well as two books and an opera.
“The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood
WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE 2000
“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.”
In The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood weaves together strands of gothic suspense, romance, and science fiction into one utterly spellbinding narrative. The novel begins with the mysterious death - a possible suicide - of a young woman named Laura Chase in 1945. Decades later, Laura’s sister Iris recounts her memories of their childhood, and of the dramatic deaths that have punctuated their wealthy, eccentric family’s history. Intertwined with Iris’s account are chapters from the scandalous novel that made Laura famous, in which two illicit lovers amuse each other by spinning a tale of a blind killer on a distant planet. These richly layered stories-within-stories gradually illuminate the secrets that have long haunted the Chase family, coming together in a brilliant and astonishing final twist.
About the Author
Margaret Atwood (1939), is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, teacher, and environmental activist whose work has been published in more than forty-five countries. Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, an award-winning TV series, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood; MaddAddam; and Hag-Seed.
She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Franz Kafka Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award. In 2019, she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature.
"The Memory Police" by Yōko Ogawa
2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
LONG-LISTED FOR THE 2020 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE
NEW YORK TIMES 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A haunting Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance, from the acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor.
On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses - until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.
When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.
A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language.
About the Author
Yōko Ogawa (1962) has won every major Japanese literary award. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, and Zoetrope: All-Story. Her works include The Diving Pool, a collection of three novellas; The Housekeeper and the Professor; Hotel Iris; and Revenge. She lives in Hyogo.
Assambled by Tanja Beljanski