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Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith [Paperback]

Gina B. Nahai
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2000
When she is five years old, Lili, the narrator of this epic and magical tale, watches her mother, Roxanna the Angel, throw herself off the balcony of their house on the Avenue of Faith. Roxanna has left no farewell, no explanation. Her family's subsequent search for her reveals no body. no sign of a fall, no trace of an escape. The only witness to Roxanna's disappearance, Lili will spend the next thirteen years looking for her mother, wondering if she is alive, wondering why she left.
This is the remarkable tale that follows Roxanna, born as a "bad-luck child" in the Jewish ghetto of Tehran, through the opulent world of Iran's aristocracy, into the whorehouses of Turkey and at last, to Los Angeles -- the city of exiles -- where she and Lili arc reunited. Gina B. Nahai tells the story of a courageous circle of women standing on the edge of the past, reshaping their lives in America, the land of chances and choices.

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From Amazon

The first voice we hear in Gina B. Nahai's second novel is that of Lili, the grown daughter of a miraculous mother. When Lili was 5 and living in the Jewish ghetto of Tehran, her mother, Roxanna, "had grown wings, one night when the darkness was the color of her dreams, and flown into the star-studded night of Iran that claimed her." Thirteen years would pass, Lili informs us, before she would find her mother again. This short introduction serves as a framing device for the story of Roxanna's life, a life begun as a "bad-luck" child. According to her sister, Miriam the Moon, she "had been a runaway before she ever became a wife or a mother, before she came into existence or was even conceived."

There is an unwritten rule that any book featuring such character names as Roxanna the Angel, Miriam the Moon, and Alexandra the Cat must also contain a great deal of magical realism; Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith lives up to expectations. In addition to Roxanna's winged departure from her home and family, there are episodes involving illuminated sunflowers, dreams of flight that result in beds of white feathers, and Roxanna's final illness, a "mysterious fluid that ... started to fill her body like a poisonous presence, that oozed out of the corner of her eyes, swelled her arms and legs till she had no more use of them and turned her once-magical voice into a gurgling whisper." Besides the miraculous, this novel has undeniable sweep, beginning in Tehran, touching down in Turkey, and ending up in Los Angeles many years later with hair-raising adventures punctuating each change of address. Gina B. Nahai has crafted a lyrical novel reminiscent of the work of Isabelle Allende. Readers with a taste for the fantastic will enjoy this tale. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Iranian author Nahai's (Cry of the Peacock) richly embroidered, mythopoeic new novel is a tale worthy of Scheherazade. Miriam the Moon weaves for her niece Lili the spellbinding story of how Lili's mother, Roxanna the Angel, in the grip of a destiny she could not control, abandoned her five-year-old daughter without explanation and vanished into the Iranian night; she remained missing for the next 13 years. ("Free will and conscious decisions are mere inventions of minds too feeble to accept the reality of our absurd existence," Miriam tells Lily.) Beginning with Roxanna's birth in 1938 in the Jewish ghetto of Tehran, the narrative moves assuredly through her family's history and into her legend. At the time of her disappearance, in 1971, the point of view shifts from third to first person, the voice of Lili, the abandoned child. Six-year-old Lili is put on an airplane and sent off to a dreary Catholic boarding school in Pasadena, where she meets her guardian angel, a childhood friend of Roxanna's named Mercedez the Movie Star. Meanwhile, in Iran, the Shah's corrupt regime is overthrown by the Ayatollah Khomeini, and in the wave of Jewish persecution that follows, Miriam the Moon and her family flee to L.A. Eventually, Roxanna is spied in Turkey, and an affecting reunion with Lili ensues, although the ending, meant to be symbolic, does not quite ring true. The story moves along briskly, yet with a surreal edge, filled with characters who have such names as Alexandra the Cat and Jacob the Jello. The larger-than-life personalities of Roxanna and her family shine convincingly in the sections devoted to Iran, markedly less so when transplanted to L.A. Lili's struggle to know who she is, while fluidly rendered, lacks the resonance of Roxanna's, whose tale is marvelously compelling. 35,000 first printing; author tour; foreign rights sold to Germany, Sweden, Italy, the U.K., Greece and Holland.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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SHE WAS BORN in 1938, the daughter of Shusha the Beautiful and her tailor husband, Rahman the Ruler. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Story Oct. 5 2001
Format:Hardcover
This is one of my favourite novels. Gina Nahai has often been compared to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and in many ways this comparison is appropriate, but Nahai's 'magic realism' -- her metaphors, symbols and moods -- are gentler and less deliberately strange than those of Marquez. The ability to fly, dreams which spill into the world, the reversal of night and day -- all these (and other) wonders seem natural to the background of the story, especially in the early sections, which are set in the Tehran Ghetto. I suppose that writers like Marquez and Nahai, if they really have anything in common, share the tendency to write not about how the world really is, but about how it sometimes feels, if such a distinction can be made. The Tehran of Nahai's novel has all the magic of Eastern Fable, but it is not a whimiscal place. There is dust and disappointment as well as wonders. There is a painful voyage of discovery across Turkey and beyond. Nahai is perfect at telling a complex and human tale in glittering prose. She is a beautiful woman and a beautiful writer.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The first voice heard in this epic novel, is that of Lili, eighteen and haunted by her motherless past. Her mother, Roxanna the Angel, was "once a young woman with watercolor eyes and translucent skin...she could stop the world with her laughter.." and most importantly, "had been so light and delicate, so undisturbed by the rules of gravity and the drudgery of human existence, she had grown wings, one night....and flown into the star-studded night of Iran that claimed her." Lili was five when she saw her mother grow wings and disappear from her life only to return when Lili is eighteen.
Nahai's spellbinding imagery and vocabulary capture readers into the world of Iran and into the life of Roxanna the Angel who was destined to run, before she was even conceived. We readers enter the world of characters such as Shusha the Beautiful, Miriam the Moon, Alexandra the Cat, and Mercedez the Movie Star...where sunflowers can light up a person's existence and the sorrows of destiny and history will hold you captive forever.
I highly recommend this to everyone who likes GREAT books!
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3.0 out of 5 stars entertainment, yes. literature? hmmm... June 3 2000
Format:Paperback
several years ago, nahai's first book, cry of the peacock, confirmed me somewhat in my decision to take up middle east studies as my major. subsequenly i feel more qualified than before to voice some criticism. even though the magical qualities of the places and the people she takes the reader to are bedazzling and certainly worth while, her portrayal of muslim persians is quite one-dimensional and negative. while her antagonism is actually very understandable (especially since i am a refugee myself), it really substantially diminishes the quality of her work. however, my chief criticism is aimed towards her new book. whereas its first half was beautiful (albeit somewhat repetitive to the readers of cry of the peacock), the second part (covering turkey and the us) was very conventional, rather hastily written and not lyrical at all. similarly to isabel allende, the endeavour to include the american experience was shallow and full of cliches. in the end, the book was truly manichean- with iran all darkness and america all light. excuse me if i am offending anybody, but to me this book is not the sparkling literature i had hoped to find, but simply a mass market novel, slightly better than the rest.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
"Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith", Gina Nahai's second novel, recounts the story of Iranian Jewish women, first in Tehran's ghetto and later as immigrants to Los Angeles. This novel continues what Nahai started in her first novel, "Cry of the Peacock". Although the two novels can be read and enjoyed independent of each other, a few of the charachters of "Cry of the Peacock" reapear here. "Moonlight" starts early 20th century in Iran, and takes us all the way to the other side of the globe. It shows us a glimps into the soul of the Iranian Jewish woman who has struggled for survival for thousands of years in a country that never accepted her as a part of itself, to her struggles to make a new life in the "land of chances" because her home didn't even tollerate her presence on it's soil anymore. This is a must-read for anyone curious to find out what happens to people before they come to the United states. It is a wonderful window into the entrapped soul of the Eastern woman and her similarities to the woman of the west. For those of us who are Iranian Jewish exiles living in Los Angeles, this is a clear mirror reflecting how we are seen by each others and forces us to take a look at ourselves with a more objective eye and come out of denial. For those of us who know the people in the book weather in reality or as a representation of something familiar, this is a must-read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting & original June 21 2002
Format:Paperback
Looking for works of fiction by contemporary Iranian authors, I chanced upon Gina Nahai's novel quite by accident. And while I was not tremendously drawn in by the blurb on the back cover, reading the first two pages proved my first impressions wrong. This book is a phenomenal example of modern magical realism found in a society that one would normally not associate with that genre. But moreover, it really brings to light the plight of two groups of people: Iranian jews confined to the ghettos in their own country, and Iranian exiles forced to begin a new life in the United States. Nahai is able to expertly weave the history of her homeland with the fantastic, but does so in a way that is both easy and enjoyable to read.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved the story
Loved the book, however the paper quality of the cover was a little strange. Colours looked washed out and faded. Maybe just a bad run but doesn't affect the story line at all. Read more
Published 7 months ago by M
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful book
Set mostly in Iran, it is a wonderful and magical fable about the intergenerational legacies passed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter and beyond and leaves the reader... Read more
Published on March 28 2004 by Arlene S. Hirsch
5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this book
This book was AMAZING! I'd never read any of her books before, but after reading Moonlight on the Ave. of Faith, Gina Nahai has become my favorite author. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2003 by Chelsea Allard
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I ever read
Yes, I love it!!! It's very original, interesting book, I think , that everyone should read it!!!!
Published on July 13 2003 by Matthew
5.0 out of 5 stars Moonlight on the avenue of my childhood
I, fortunately, encountered with this book for my Jewish History class. although i have to write a 10 page paper, this book is, by far, the best book I have ever read in my whole... Read more
Published on April 28 2003 by Delal Cerimli
5.0 out of 5 stars So hard to put down!
Iran-born Gina B. Nahai pulled me into her lyrical world with her first book, Cry of the Peacock. N.B. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Moonlight On Your Day
This is an amazing book. While giving you insight into the faith and structure of a rarely discussed segment of the world, the author makes the characters compelling enough that... Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Moonlight On Your Day
This is an amazing book. While giving you insight into the faith and structure of a rarely discussed segment of the world, the author makes the characters compelling enough that... Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent; fairy tale, educational, moving; surreal.
Just wanted to mention that the ending is... well... After all the magic realism, she abandons the realism part... and delves into the completely abstract. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2000 by Auliya
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