Touba and the Meaning of Night
Shahrnush Parsipur

Translated from the Persian
by Havva Houshmand and Kamran Talattof

When her father dies, Touba – a smart and spiritual fourteen year old – proposes for financial reasons to a middle-aged man. Miserably depressed, she divorces him a few years later, and marries a Qajar prince. This is a loving relationship, but when the prince takes a second wife, she divorces him, too. It seems Touba's fate is to remain both spiritually unfulfilled and materially weak.

'Parsipur makes a stylishly original contribution to modern feminist literature.' Publishers Weekly

Alone and impoverished, as the prince’s dynasty is displaced, Touba weaves carpets to make money, cares for her children and communes with a dead girl’s ghost that haunts her property. As she grows older, Touba is intrigued by politics and her country’s struggles with British and Russian colonianism, and above all else, seeks spiritual truth, with a Sufi master. But ultimately the demands of her crumbling household intervene.

Replete with juxtapositions of mysticism and historical fact, Parsipur distils eight decades of Iranian history into this enlightening and highly rewarding novel.

'A landmark in contemporary Iranian literature ... there is more than tradition at work in Parsipur’s writing: realism, the political novel, Sufi writings and the influence of Persian fairytales, lending a magical realist atmosphere . . .a well constructed tale, placing politics and history at the centre of an individual life.’ Myslexia

'A curate's egg of a novel, mixing history, mysticism, philosophy and personal tragedy . . . a masterpiece, Pasripur is one of the giants of Iranian literature' Camden New Journal

Shahrnush Parsipur has written eleven works of fiction and memoir. A bestseller in Iran, Touba – like many of Parsipur's books – remains banned. Imprisoned by the Shah's security agency and the Islamic Republic in turn, the author now lives in exile. Parsipur was the first recipient of the International Writer's Project Fellowship from Brown University and currently lives in California.

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Original Paperback 368pp
ISBN: 0-7145-3136-7/ 978-0-7145-3136-6
Publication Date: March 2007
UK and Commonwealth