01 December 2007

Anahita's Woven Riddle

Melissa reviewed this book about a month ago and I was very intrigued. It's set in Iran in about 1875 among the Afshar tribe who are famous for their carpets.

It's wonderful to see a book set in this time and place. There is so little written in English about this part of the world, and most is non-fiction from a Russian or British perspective. Sayres has clearly done a lot of research and it's nice to have a weaver writing about weaving (although tapestry weaving is a lot different from creating a knotted-pile carpet, as Anahita does in the book).

The story is pretty good too. Like Melissa, I appreciated that there were 3 reasonable suitors and the story wasn't completely obvious in pointing toward the one she would marry. And it was nice to see Anahita learn a little about herself as time went on, because she about drove me nuts at the beginning of the book.

Two complaints (of course): First, because of all the reform movements mentioned in the book, it felt much more like it was set in the early1900s instead of 20-30 years earlier. But this is hardly something most people would care about.

But I was very surprised and disappointed that Sayres has the Afshar speaking Persian, especially at home with their own families. The Afshar are Turkic and speak a language very closely related to southern Azeri. Persian and Afshar are totally unrelated, although Afshar has borrowed a number of Farsi words. Of course it would be expected that some Afshar at the time would speak Farsi since they live in Iran, but not at home as the characters in the book do. (spoiler) In fact, given the answer to the last riddle of the book, the Yomut and Afshar share Turkic languages, not Persian dialects. It would not have been difficult or any more confusing to have clarified this in the book, especially when Sayres is so careful to portray Iranian life well.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you (mostly) liked it. I have to admit that I thought of you while reading the book, and wondered what you'd think of it. Now I know. :)