After the 1979 revolution in Iran, Dalia Sofer’s father was arrested and sent to prison. His crime: being Jewish, and living well under the Shah. Soon after his release, Sofer and her family fled the country, landing in Israel and ultimately emigrating to the United States. She was 10 years old.
Now, Sofer’s written The Septembers of Shiraz, a richly detailed and affecting novel (her first) about a family in Tehran whose experiences resemble her own. The story is told from four perspectives: that of the imprisoned father, Isaac; his wife, Farnaz; their 9-year-old daughter Shirin; and their 18-year-old son, Parviz, who has already left the country for New York, where he finds himself both drawn to and repelled by the religious life of his Hasidic landlord.
On a warm summer morning in Central Park, a few blocks from Sofer’s home, she talks about her creative choices (Why make Isaac a gem dealer? Why place Parviz in a Lubavitch family?) and about the challenges of taking on a subject that hits so close to home.