I have recommended this audiobook to friends! It's great fun, packed with wonderful characters (the demon Nurd is one of my favorites), and the narration absolutely makes it.
The characters, and the footnotes (yes, the footnotes!) - very funny, yet still true to the facts they convey (science, history, etc.).
No, but I will!
Yes, although I didn't have time to do that, so it took 3 sittings.
Already a fan of John Connolly's thrillers, and now sold on his ability to write humor.
I was in graduate school, between jobs in the Middle East, during the Iranian Revolution, and teaching in Kuwait in the early days Khomeini's reign. I knew many Iranian students and saw first hand the devastating effects of life under both the Shah and the new regime. Hellman's book brought much of that era rushing back, and she certainly did her homework. Still, stories set in "enemy territory" can be problematic. Even when characters are varied and complex, it's very easy to reinforce stereotypes. People tend to embrace whatever supports their beliefs and miss those elements that challenge their beliefs. Hellman does a fair job of showing Nuri's descent into the madness of post-torture life under an oppressive regime, and of showing "good" and "bad" Iranians. I was nevertheless disappointed to see the portrayal of Nuri reinforce so many of the common notions about Middle Eastern/Muslim husbands -- he becomes emotional and sexually abusive; a holds his wife captive and cuts her off from her family and friends; he hides things from her; he cuts her out of his life. A bit too predictable, and unnecessary for a good story. A good read, but with cautions in place.
I found the last-minute introduction of a Kurdistani Jew as hero a bit gratuitous. Why not a Sunni Kurd, or even a Shi'ite Persian? Yes, there are Kurdistani Jews, but they don't figure into the rest of the story, so I have to wonder why the last-minute introduction was necessary. There is a suggestion of backstory with Anna's father, but that point is never developed. Perhaps a good question for an author interview.
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