Sunday, 1 October 2017

Through the Sad Wood Our Corpses Will Hang by Ava Farmehri

Through the Sad Wood Our Corpses Will Hang by Ava Farmehri
First published in Canada by Guernica Editions in September 2017.

One of my WorldReads from Iran

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At twenty, Sheyda Porrouya's life is almost over. Born in Iran on the day staunchly orthodox mullas declare the birth of the Islamic Republic, she is witness to their purging of the country of all things Western and un-Islamic. To make matters worse, as she matures, Sheyda seems increasingly unable to distinguish between fairy tale and reality. And her behaviour becomes increasingly erratic. Accused of killing her mother, Sheyda is sentenced to death by hanging. As she awaits either release or execution, the narrative jumps back and forth from Sheyda's childhood to life in one of Iran's most notorious prisons.

I was intrigued by this novel's poetic title and its almost macabre cover art (the work of Sinan Hussein) and so had high hopes of it before I began to read. I am glad to be able to say that I wasn't at all disappointed! Through the Sad Wood Our Corpses Will Hang is a beautiful, unpredictable story of frustrated humanity. Narrated in the first person by imprisoned Sheyda, we see Iranian society as she does - in all its complexities and from the viewpoint of an eternal outsider. She is an unreliable narrator so I found I frequently needed to unravel her truths from The Truth, however I felt I understood her motivations and could easily empathise with the effects of her isolation. Iranian prison routine is barbaric, but it could be said that Sheyda had been preparing for its inhumanity all her life.

Throughout the novel we spend moments with Sheyda during her three-week incarceration before being whirled away in her memories of childhood and adolescence. I loved her vivid descriptions of houses and streets, birds and gardens. The characters around her are so clearly portrayed as to be easily imagined, with the possibility of encountering the Morality Police being a perpetual threat. I believe that Through the Sad Wood Our Corpses Will Hang is Ava Farmehri's first novel and I am eager for her to write more as I love this book so much! Another triumph from Guernica Editions and a novel that I would highly recommend.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Ava Farmehri / Contemporary fiction / Books from Iran

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