Published: April 2018
Before shrapnel severed his left arm during the Iran-Iraq war, Amir Khan lived the life of a carefree playboy. Five years later, his mother and sister Reyhaneh find him in mental hospital for shell-shocked soldiers and bring him home to Tehran. His memories decimated, Amir is haunted by the vision of a mysterious woman he believes is his fiancee. He never sees her face: there is a shining crescent moon on her forehead, and he names her Moon Brow.
His sense of humor (though perhaps not his sanity) intact, Amir cajoles Reyhaneh into helping him find her. Reluctantly she agrees, if only to heal her ruptured family, reminding Amir that while he'd been tormenting their devout parents with his lovers and parties, she'd been a "headscarf-shrouded prisoner" in her powerful father's house. Now Amir is the one who cannot escape the garden walls: his father's guards hail him as a living martyr to the cause of Imam Khomeini and the Revolution, yet treat him as a dangerous madman. Amir decides there's only one solution to his dilemma: return to the battlefield and find his severed arm-along with its engagement ring.
All the while, twin scribes-the angel of virtue and the angel of sin-sit on our hero's shoulders and narrate the story in enthrallingly distinctive prose. Wildly inventive and radically empathetic, steeped in Persian folklore and contemporary Middle East history, Moon Brow is the great Iranian novelist Shahriar Mandanipour's unforgettable epic of love, war, morality, faith, and family.
Sara Khalili is an editor and translator of contemporary Iranian literature. Her translations include Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour, The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons by Goli Taraghi, The Book of Fate by Parinoush Saniee, and Rituals of Restlessness by Yaghoub Yadali. She has also translated several volumes of poetry by Forough Farrokhzad, Simin Behbahani, Siavash Kasraii, and Fereydoon Moshiri. Her short story translations have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, EPOCH, GRANTA, Words Without Borders, The Literary Review, PEN America, Witness, and Consequence.
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