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Best Book of 2020: The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

This book moved me. It was a beautiful story of love, loss and the struggle for freedom and freewill. I just finished it and I’m shooked. I am completely unable to justify how gorgeous this love story was. While reading it, it brought the colours, sounds, scents of delicious Persian foods and the sites that Tehran has to offer, to the forefront of my mind. This story twisted my heart with the narration of long-lost loves, Roya and Bahman. It also touched upon the cultural and religious pressures of Iran in the 50’s and the country’s political upheaval. It also recounted the emotional turmoil of a mother losing a child and the mixed feelings of relief and guilt when a rainbow baby comes along. There was so much told within the words of this book that, in the end, it made me weep-- actually weep because of its beauty. I think it’s safe to assume that I highly recommend this book, which has gone to the top of my list of the best book I have read in 2020.



Book Description (from GoodReads)

Roya is a dreamy, idealistic teenager living in 1953 Tehran who, amid the political upheaval of the time, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood book and stationery shop. She always feels safe in his dusty store, overflowing with fountain pens, shiny ink bottles, and thick pads of soft writing paper. When Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer - handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry - she loses her heart at once. As their romance blossoms, the modest little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran. A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square, but suddenly, violence erupts - a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she resigns herself to never seeing him again. Until, more than 60 years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did he leave? Where did he go? How was he able to forget her? The Stationery Shop is a beautiful and timely exploration of devastating loss, unbreakable family bonds, and the overwhelming power of love.

Author Bio (from Marjan Kamali's website)

Marjan Kamali, born in Turkey to Iranian parents, spent her childhood in Kenya, Germany, Turkey, Iran, and the United States. She studied English Literature at UC Berkeley and received her MBA from Columbia University and her MFA from New York University. She is the author of two novels: The Stationery Shop (Gallery/Simon&Schuster) and Together Tea (Ecco/HarperCollins).

The Stationery Shop, a Boston Globe best-seller, was a Real Simple magazine Top Editor’s Pick, an Indie Next Pick, one of Newsweek’s 30 Best Summer Books, and an excerpt was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. It is being translated into several languages.

Marjan’s debut novel, Together Tea, was a Massachusetts Book Award Finalist, an NPR WBUR Good Read, and a Target Emerging Author Selection and has been translated into several languages and adapted for the stage.

Marjan’s work has also been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in two anthologies.

Marjan teaches writing at GrubStreet and lives with her husband and two children in the Boston area.

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