Man of My Time

Farrar. Apr. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9780374110062. $27. F
As this novel of modern Iran opens, Hamid Mozaffarian is on a diplomatic mission to New York, where he meets the exiled family he hasn’t seen since 1979 and is given a portion of his father’s ashes to scatter in Iran. This sudden reconnection with his past leads Hamid to reevaluate a life that has taken him from a happy, artistic childhood to work as an interrogator for the intelligence agency of a regime that tolerates little dissent. What he discovers is a life made up of lies and betrayals, as he enlists his fellow revolutionaries to confiscate his father’s life’s work—notes and manuscript for a history of Persian art—and condemns to death a talented cartoonist he admired (and whom his father also once betrayed in the days of the Shah). His literal self-exile has also resulted in a failed marriage and his daughter’s disaffection.
VERDICT Through the pain of Hamid’s alienation, Sofer (The Septembers of Shiraz), an Iranian-born Jew who grew up in the United States, has created a memorable and difficult character who can be seen as embodying the spiritual distress of Iran since the 1978 revolution. A powerful, complex, and profoundly anguished novel made more relevant by current tensions. [See Prepub Alert, 10/7/19.]

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