Zwei Schwestern, getrennt durch einen Ozean, verbunden durch eine Geschichte
Saba ist elf Jahre alt, als zwei einschneidende Ereignisse ihr Leben verändern. Die Islamische Revolution zwingt Sabas wohlhabende christliche Familie dazu, Teheran zu verlassen und sich fern von den prüfenden Blicken der Mullahs auf ihre Ländereien in der Gilan-Provinz zurückzuziehen. Kurz darauf verschwinden ihre Mutter und ihre Zwillingsschwester Mahtab spurlos. Ihr Vater und die Nachbarn im Dorf behaupten, Mahtab sei bei einem nächtlichen Bad im Kaspischen Meer ertrunken und die Mutter sei bei dem Versuch, den Iran zu verlassen, festgenommen worden. Doch Saba glaubt an eine ganz andere Geschichte: Immer wieder erzählt sie ihrer besten Freundin Ponneh und dem Jungen Reza, den sie liebt, Episoden aus dem filmreifen Leben, das die beiden Vermissten inzwischen in den USA führen.
Als Saba erwachsen wird, muss sie sich jedoch immer drängenderen Fragen stellen: Was ist Wahrheit und was ist Lüge? Darf Liebe ein Grund sein, sich selbst zu verleugnen? Und wann ist es an der Zeit, eigene Entscheidungen zu treffen und sein Schicksal in die Hand zu nehmen? Ein kraftvolles, berührendes Debüt über Freundschaft, Treue und die Macht des Geschichtenerzählens.
"A feel-good family tale."-Cosmopolitan
"Ambitious . . . There's a kaleidoscopic quality to Dina Nayeri's prose, evoking the beat of Eastern storytelling, while its cadences remain resolutely American. . . . The novel's message, however, is universal: we must do all we can to control our own fates."-The Daily Mail
"What a tremendous gift [Nayeri] offers us throughout the book, an opportunity to connect with the richness of Iran, while simultaneously enlarging our understanding of the human experience."-Baltimore Times
"Set in the 1980s and early 1990s in a northern Iranian village, the novel draws out a rich and sensual old-world life. . . . Told through memory, fantasy, and conjecture, the rest of the novel is as much about storytelling--its art, lies, comforts, truths, pitfalls, and saving grace-as it is about anything else. We see a complex-albeit sad-"new Iran": a country that is post-revolution, in the throes of war, and constantly falling short of its characters' expectations and dreams."-Los Angeles Review of Books
"Nayeri's highly accomplished debut is a rich, multilayered reading experience. Structurally complex, the overriding theme is storytelling in all its forms, and the fine line between truth and lies. Each one of the large cast of characters is fully realized and sympathetic. Saba is a captivating heroine whose tragedies and triumphs will carry readers on a long but engrossing ride."-Library Journal (starred review)
"From the imprint that brought you Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner; the sort of embracing and embraceable culturally far-reaching fiction Riverhead does best."-Booklist
"[An] elegant aspirational novel of life in post-revolutionary Iran. . . . Richly imaginative . . . Lyrical, humane, and hopeful."-Kirkus
"Charming and engrossing, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is a vivid and evocative story about the places we love, the places we long for-and the places we can only imagine."-Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles
"Pure magic: lyrical, captivating, funny, and heartbreaking. Entering the world of the intriguing Saba Hafezi and her friends in a seaside village in northern Iran, I lost my heart." -Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation
"Captivating. It reminds us how storytelling can save our lives. A brilliant debut."-Michelle Huneven, author of Blame
Cheshmeh Village (Gilan Province), Iran Summer 1981
This is the sum of all that Saba Hafezi remembers from the day her mother and twin sister flew away forever, maybe to America, maybe to somewhere even farther out of reach. If you asked her to recall it, she would cobble all the pieces together as muddled memories within memories, two balmy Gilan days torn out of sequence, floating somewhere in her eleventh summer, and glued back together like this:
"Where is Mahtab?" Saba asks again, and fidgets in the backseat of the car. Her father drives, while in the passenger seat her mother searches her purse for passports and plane tickets and all the papers needed to get out of Iran. Saba is dizzy. Her head hasn't stopped hurting since that night at the beach, but she doesn't remember much. She knows just this one thing: that her twin sister, Mahtab, is not here. Where is she? Why isn't she in the car when they are about to fly away and never come back?
"Do you have the birth certificates?" her father asks. His voice is sharp and quick and it makes Saba feel short of breath. What is happening? She has never been away from Mahtab for this long-for eleven years the Hafezi twins have been one entity. No Saba without Mahtab. But now days have passed- or is it weeks? Saba has been sick in bed and she can't remem- ber. She hasn't been allowed to speak to her sister, and now the family is in a car headed to the airport without Mahtab. What is happening?
"When you get to California," her father says to her mother, "go straight to Behrooz's house. Then call me. I'll send money."
"Where is Mahtab?" Saba asks again. "Why is Mahtab not here?"
"She'll meet us there," says her mother. "Khanom Basir will drive her."
"Why?" Saba asks. She presses stop on her Walkman. This is all so confusing.
"Saba! Stop it!" her mother snaps, and turns back to her father. Is she wearing a green scarf? There is a spot of black over this part of the memory, but Saba remembers a green scarf. Her mother goes on. "What about security? What do I say to the pasdars?"
The mention of the moral police frightens Saba. For the past two years it has been a crime to be a converted Christian in Iran-or an ex-Muslim of any kind-as the Hafezis are. And it is terrifying to be a criminal in the world of brutal pasdars in stark uniforms, and mullahs in turbans and robes.
"There will be pasdars there?" she asks, her voice quivering.
"Hush," says her mother. "Go back to your music. We can't take it with us."
Saba sings an American tune that she and Mahtab learned from an illegally imported music tape, and goes over English word lists in her mind. She will be brave. She will perfect her English and not be afraid. Abalone. Abattoir. Abbreviate.
Her father wipes his brow. "Are you sure this is necessary?"
"We've been through this, Ehsan!" her mother snaps. "I won't have her raised in this place . . . wasting her days with village kids, stuck under a scarf, memorizing Arabic and waiting to be arrested. No, thank you."
"I know it's important"-her father's voice is pleading-"but do we have to make a show of it? Is it so bad if we just say . . . I mean . . . it can be hidden easily."
"If you're a coward," her mother whispers. She begins to cry. "What about what happened . . . ?" she says. "They will arrest me." Saba wonders what she means.
"What is abalone?" She tries to distract her mother, who doesn't answer. The fighting frightens Saba, but there are more important things to worry about now. She taps her father on the shoulder. "Why is Khanom Basir bringing Mahtab? There's room in this car." It is odd that Reza's mother would drive at all. But maybe this means that Reza will come too, and Saba loves him almost as much as she loves Mahtab. In fact, if anyone asks, she is happy to claim that she will marry Reza one day.
"In a few years yo