MARSHA MEHRANINTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER AUTHOR
Reviews on The Saturday Night School of Beauty
“Imagine coming upon Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in an unfinished state – perhaps a third of the details are sketched out, but not fully rendered with brushstrokes. Yet, you can still see without a doubt the lady’s beauty, her mysterious smile, the grace of her hands. You can only visualize what the painting would look like in its finished state, but you can conclude from what was set down on canvas how breathtaking the whole would have been.
That scenario is how I can best describe The Saturday Night School of Beauty by Marsha Mehran. It contains so many passages that excited me – beautiful, heartbreaking, profound, shocking, memorable. Often-times I would have to read some parts over again because they moved me. I love the narrative format of the book, which interweaves the background stories of Persian expatriates in Buenos Aires who come together for weekly poetry night. They recite and passionately discuss the Koran, Rumi, Hafez, and other poets, often illuminating the characters’ psyches.
“What happened to people when they began to revolt, to change from within, and to become something else. That was why he loved poetry. What really drew him to the words. He understood those lines that called to him. Revolt, the turn in a turn.”
Mehran alternates from these poetry nights to exploring the haunting pasts of each character and what drove them from Iran to Argentina. These chapters are just as riveting as the poetry scenes, in that I felt immersed in Persian culture.
Mehran’s writing is as lyrical as the mystical poetry her characters discuss.
However, there are some uneven sections in the book. Some characters’ backgrounds and plots don’t feel fully fleshed out. Sometimes, a chapter will start delving into one character only to abruptly switch to another character’s narrative. This was puzzling, as it was obvious to me how gifted and skillful the writer seemed. I got my answer when I read the heartbreaking foreword by the author’s father. It seems Marsha Mehran died before completing the book and her father did the best he could to get it in a publishable state.
If you liked Reading Lolita in Tehran, you must read The Saturday Night School of Beauty.”
“This title will take you beyond the proverbial beauty school. It is and it’s not about physical beauty. The beauty lies in the poems recited in conversations the characters have. You get to know them on a different level. You may find it difficult to place their occupations or backgrounds, but will easily understand what’s going on in their hearts. The story maybe about glimpses into the lives of displaced Iranians trying to keep their culture alive by forming a close knit group, but its about so much more on a philosophical level.
The writer seems to have digged in and drawn from her experiences to present us with a brilliant narration and a glimpse into a simple yet complex culture.”
“This is an uneven book with an afterword written by the author’s father, explaining that she died leaving an unfinished manuscript after six years of work and illness. He honored her intense efforts by finishing her work and seeing it through to publication. Parts of this book soar, using Iranian poetry and expat stories to tell tales that illuminate lives that most Americans have never heard or read about. That readers are introduced to lives, through a looking glass, with such enormously gifted writing skills is a treasure; especially timely as we face a new future with Iran. If the afterward were a forward, I would have had more tolerance for the text, as it is I just feel embarrassed for my opinion. It really needed a better editor, although clearly her father did it as a labor of love. This is a fascinating book and worth reading. I received my copy from NetGalley.”
This book is an interesting mix of cultures, lyrical passages and interesting characters. It follows friendships formed when Zadi leaves Iran during the revolution to seek refuge in Buenos Aires. She opens a beauty Salon and her neighbours share their stories amongst themselves and the book can feel like a collection of short stories which are sometimes quite startling. Recounting why they fled from Iran to Argentina.
It’s one of those books that is rich in foreign cultures and poetical lyricism.
With many thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a copy of this book.
Lolly K. Dandeneau
The beauty of the novel is in the poetry and philosophy. Zadi Heirati’s business, a beauty salon, soon becomes a spiritual refuge of sorts for her neighbors with heavy stories of their own. With others to share what the revolution has done to them makes the personal hardships lighter. This is one of the best excerpts in the novel, with deeply rooted meaning. “Women know that no society can survive if their mothers and sisters are kept with rags in her mouths.With no words to say and no way of saying them. To cut the womb out of this world, to keep it behind high walls, is to go against everything natural. It is against God and it is against life. To be silent is to die. But to speak at the wrong time is death, too. You must choose when to keep the words inside. But sometimes, you can’t help it. Sometimes, the words are already out of your mouth before you have thought them.”
“And sometimes others choose those words for you, sealing your destiny.”
I couldn’t help but share the above for it’s beauty. It’s hard to imagine such upheaval that is common for other people, to make life changing decisions based on the choas of your homeland. There is a thread that binds those in exile, a bond that only shared experience can forge. Sad and lovely.