The New Angel: Ali Alizedeh
Bahram’s parents are the very epitome of modern Iran: university educated, secular, progressive. His kindly uncle Behrooz was a progressive academic. But everything changed with Islamic revolution; his mother had been told to wear a scarf over her head and his father to stop wearing his colourful Western ties. His cousin Abbas joins the Islamic army and becomes a pernicious force against his family and the life they had led. After a tirade against the Islamists in front of Abbas, Behrooz strangely disappears. The pressure drives his mother to insanity. The protracted war with Iraq brings new levels of suffering and suspicion. In spite of this, the young Bahram, an outsider, finds friendship and love with Fereshteh (Persian for ‘angel’).
Their relationship develops secretly, they think, and they fantasise about escaping together. Unknown to them, they are observed by Abbas and their plans are tragically foiled. Alizedeh beautifully and terrifyingly portrays a society in disastrous transition - one can only hope it is just a tragic interlude. The New Angel is a wonderful novel by a highly talented Iranian-born Australian writer.