Jane’s Boekentips

MY FATHER’S NOTEBOOK by Kader Abdolah

When I read THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini, I was immersed in the politics, history and culture of Afghanistan. Not only was it a wonderful novel, but I learned so much about the country. That same feeling came back to me when I read MY FATHER’S NOTEBOOK by Kader Abdolah.

Born in the early 19th century, in Iran, Aga was the son of a concubine and he was also a deaf mute. He learned a trade as a carpet mender, and eventually married and had four children. He was given a notebook which he filled through the years with a code that only he could understand. His son, Ishmael, became his translator and guide through life. Not many people could understand Aga or communicate with him, and Ishmael was that bridge.

Eventually, Ishmael went to Tehran to the university and became involved in the Communist Party. His life was in constant danger and he later left Iran for the Netherlands. Ishmael now is a writer and is struggling to make sense of his father’s notebook and to better understand his father.

It is a fast and poignant story about a father and son. The educated son who tries to explain religion, politics and science to a father who cannot conceive of these “big ideas”. I knew very little about Iran before I read this book, and Abdolah has given us just a glimpse of this country. Ultimately, this is a simple and yet, complex, tale about a father and son and, no matter where you live, you will find yourself turning the page for more.

No passport needed to read these novels:

Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

God of small things by Arundhati Roy

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

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