Cry of the Peacock, Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith, and Caspian Rain are the enticing titles of Gina Bonakdar Nahai’s Iran-focused novels, published in 1991, 1999, and 2008 respectively. And the titles hold true: the narratives reflect the pain, melancholy and dream-like beauty conveyed in the titles as they divulge characters who strive to escape the restrictions of their community, religion, government, and gender. In the meantime, as the author depicts these fantasies of escape and attempts at flight –and frequently harshly punishes them–, the characters achieve a hitherto unknown feat, namely the depiction of Jewish Iranian main characters at the center of everyday Iranian life. Nay, the author goes further than that even as her characters become entangled in the lives of great or notable historical figures, from the Qajars to the Pahlavis, creating an arc of Jewish presence through Persian history.
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