My Father’s Notebook by Kader Abdolah
This book is translated by: Susan Massotty
On a holy mountain in the depths of Persia, there is a cave with a mysterious cuneiform carving deep inside it. Aga Akbar, a deaf-mute boy from the mountain, develops his own private script from these symbols and writes passionately of his life, his family and his efforts to make sense of the changes the twentieth century brings to his country. Exiled in Holland a generation later, Akbar’s son, Ishmael, struggles to decipher the notebook, reflecting how his own political activities have forced him to flee his country and abandon his family. As he gets closer to the heart of his father’s story, he unravels the intricate tale of how the silent world of a village carpet-mender was forced to give way to one where the increasingly hostile environment of modern Iran has brought the family both love and sacrifice.
I picked up this book as it not what I would usually read. This was a good book and I am glad I chose it. The majority of the book is narrated by Ishmael, who is trying to understand his father’s notebook. But his dad is a deaf mute who is also illiterate. His story is told as a series of pictures and hard to decipher scribbles. Ishmael also retells memories of his life in Iran, where life is changing quickly – both politically and economically.
This was an interesting read. It enabled me to learn more about Iran in the last century and also about life with a deaf mute. This book was a bit disjointed and I did sometimes wonder where we were in the recollections. That said, learning about life in this time was wonderful and reading about Iran’s countryside and traditions was very enlightening.
I liked the characters and the honesty Ishmael showed as he retold his father’s life stories. His involvement in politics and how he felt about the current situation was interesting. I felt sorry for Akbar, but also admired how he managed to work, gain respect and provide for his family.
This was an enlightening read, which reminded me a bit of A Thousand Splendid Suns. I thought it was worth reading.