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Three years after the Revolution, Tehran looks like a boneyard. Shahed has returned from California to his homeland to face the ghost of his father, to find out who betrayed him as a child, to recover something that might make him feel alive. Witnessing the brutalities of militant fundamentalists, he wishes his exuberant hustler of a father were alive again to kick the mullahs and their vicious crusade out of Iran. Shahed conjures up his life as a twelve- year-old, superimposing on the grim streets the bizarre exploits of his lusty father and his crazy cohorts in the days of the Shah. He sees again his long- suffering mother, Uncle E the opium addict, the massive butcher, Taj the idiot . . . and most vividly of all the seductress Houri, tantalizing nymph of his childhood fantasies. Now he must weigh the past, its dreams and crimes, excitement and betrayal, against the desolation of the present. Mehrdad Balali combines a gripping father-son rivalry with a stark contrast of Iran under the Shah, and in the troubled years following the Revolution. Islamic culture unfolds through details of family relations, feasts and rites, circumcision, women's roles and the vibrancy of everyday life for the poor in a country with thousands of years of history. Houri brings alive an alien milieu few Americans understand-the subjection of an entire country to the horrors of religious fundamentalist rule. Yet it portrays a universal story older than nations: that of the bitter struggle and harsh love between father and son.
MEHRDAD BALALI is an Iranian-born American who returned to his homeland as a career journalist in 1991. He worked for the next 15 years for international news agencies, covering social and political upheavals in the Middle East. After being banned from working in Iran, he covered events in Afghanistan and the Arab Gulf states, returning to the U.S. to spend his time writing fiction. The following titles from both The Permanent Press and its Second Chance Press imprint are arranged alphabetically by author.