The Luminous Heart of Jonah S. Receives STARRED Review from Booklist!
★ Raphael’s Son, a mega-wealthy Iranian Jew with many enemies, has been murdered. The story behind his odd name and his life of cruelty and revenge is labyrinthine and dramatic. It begins in 1950s Tehran, where the Soleyman clan prospers under the shah, even though Raphael, the oldest son, is strangely afflicted with an inexplicably glowing heart. He comes under the spell of an enigmatic older woman, who, years after his death, reappears with a boy she improbably claims is Raphael’s son. Her relentless battle with Raphael’s urbane brother, Aaron, and his quiet, math-prodigy wife, Elizabeth, to secure Raphael Son’s fair share of the family fortune precipitates a storm of otherworldly catastrophes that follows the Soleymans as they flee Iran for Los Angeles in the wake of the revolution. Lyrical, shrewd, and daring novelist Nahai (Caspian Rain, 2007) experienced this exodus and writes with acute emotional and nearly anthropological perception, laser-wit, and deep compassion about Iranian temperaments and social conventions, the sorrows of exile, and the volatile dynamics of LA’s cultured and proud Iranian Jewish enclave. With touches of magic realism, extraordinary characters, and a spiraling, multigenerational plot involving fraud, a murder mystery, epic suffering, heroic generosity, women’s struggle for freedom, and the clash between East and West, Nahai’s mythic, tragic, often beautiful immigrant family saga illuminates timeless questions of prejudice, trauma, inheritance, loyalty, and love.
Posted: Sep 17, 2014
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