Friday, June 14, 2013

BOOK: Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sarah Delijani

Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sarah Delijani, 280 pages

review book from Simon & Schuster Canada

I watched Jon Stewart's last show before his hiatus from The Daily Show. He showed a clip* of Jason Jones in Iran in 2009, during the revolution and protests before the 'democratic' elections. One of the reporters they talked to was subsequently arrested. Stewart and the show had become friends, and after his eventual release, and book writing, Stewart decided to make a movie based on the events. That's what his hiatus is for, and it is also the subject of this book, sort of.

The revolution and protests of 2009 mirrored the revolution and crack down that happened in the 1980s. Starting in Evin Prison in 1983, a child is born to a prisoner. Delijani immersed the reader in the scene - the fear, the confusion, the horror. Several stories are followed in the 1980s, from connected young people who have been imprisoned, and their young children who are looked after by other family members. Some of the prisoners survive, some don't. Some left Iran, some stayed. Twenty odd years later, the children are grown, and living their own revolution, and also the effects of having parents who were in prison for the same revolution.

It was a beautiful book, and reminds you that an 'axis of evil' represents a government and its leaders, not the people. Iran had been a well educated, vibrant country with women who had vital roles in society. Then, bam. A totalitarian government, fundamentalist religiously based changed all that. The people are still fighting, still rebelling as best as they can. The fact that a new generation who grew up under Khomeni still turned out in numbers to protest showed that the brainwashing of a generation did not take.

It's a book that brings history, and modern events to life. As I read, I enjoyed the story and the people, but at all times, recognized that as much as it is a novel, it is also what has really happened to real people.

In the author’s own words, “Children of the Jacaranda Tree is an attempt not only to keep alive the memory of my uncle and all those who were murdered in that blood-soaked summer, but also to shed light on this dark moment in Iranian history, on its tales of violence, prison and death, which have remained untold for so long. To give voice not only to the victims of this atrocity, but also to the ordeal of their families and their children, who have had to live with their unspoken grief buried inside them year after year, decade after decade.”

Other books to read:  Persepolis 1 and 2  by Marjane Satrapi; Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi; 1982 by Jian Ghomeshi (as a book by one of the Iranian children who left Iran before the revolution)

(*Behind the Veil: Persians of Interest, Minarets of Menace, Ayatollah You So these are links to the Comedy Channel, the Canadian site. They should also be on Comedy Central. Don't judge! I get my news from The Daily Show)