“Martyrdom Street” is the first novel from Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, an associate professor of history at Penn and director of the University’s Middle East Center.
Set in Iran during the 1979 revolution and subsequent Iran-Iraq War, the book chronicles the lives of three Iranian women dealing with the consequences of war and the instability, disruption and upheaval created by revolution.
The two younger women must struggle with social mores and cultural issues while attempting to fit into both Iranian and American societies. The older woman must grapple with her misgivings about faith, a failed marriage, experiences of war and disability.
Kashani-Sabet says each woman also has a secret, a “kernel of truth that they don’t want the outside world to know about.”
“I think that speaks a lot to the experience of political authoritarianism that each one has internalized,” she says.
The novel is a window into both Iranian and Iranian-American culture and society.
Kashani-Sabet says she wants the book to show that Iran is a complex society, and that Iranians and Iranian Americans must sort through many conflicting experiences, similar to other immigrant groups.
“Whatever prejudices we may bring as readers, or whatever prejudices we may bring as individuals, I hope that the characters and some of the episodes in the book will help to shatter those stereotypes in one way or another,” she says. “Or even one stereotype.Even if it does that, I’ll be very happy.”
Kashani-Sabet will discuss her book on Sept. 28 at the Penn Bookstore. The event takes place from 5 to 6 p.m.
For more information, call 215-898-7595 or visit www.upenn.edu/bookstore.
Originally published on September 16, 2010