The Stationery Shop

Gallery: S. & S. Jun. 2019. 308p. ISBN 9781982107482. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781982107505. F
Roya Kayhani meets Bahman Aslan in a stationery shop in Tehran in 1953; both are 17. The owner, Mr. Fakhri, dispenses foreign-language books as well as antimonarchist polemics along with the poetry of Rumi. Sharing the poetry and letters passed between them by Mr. Fakhri inside the books, the couple fall in love and become engaged. Iran is moving toward democracy and modernization in 1953, but a coup by the forces of the Shah shuts down those hopes. Now, 60 years later, Roya is married to Walter Archer and lives outside Boston; Bahman is in a nursing home not far away. What happened to their love and the future of their country? Slowly moving through the budding love story, readers unearth secrets about those close to the pair and how, as Iranian belief dictates, one's destiny is already inscribed on one's forehead at birth.
VERDICT The unfurling stories in Kamali's sophomore novel (after Together Tea) will stun readers as the aromas of Persian cooking wafting throughout convince us that love can last a lifetime. For those who enjoy getting caught up in romance while discovering unfamiliar history of another country. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.]
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