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This resonant book portrays the ugliness of fundamentalist Islamic mob justice in Khomeini-era Iran. Sahebjam, an Iranian journalist based in France who has written critically of the regime, returned to his homeland under cover in 1986. While visiting a small town he calls Kupayeh, he learned how an innocent 35-year-old woman had been stoned to death for supposed infidelity. His thorough reporting, based on a further visit to the village, reconstructs Soraya's life and killing with much dialogue and interior monologue. Soraya gave birth to nine children in 14 years and her husband Ghorban-Ali also turned to prostitutes. He became involved in shady business deals and began to associate with Sheik Hassan, a criminal who was appointed Ayatollah Khomeini's local representative. When Ghorban-Ali, having fallen in love with another woman, accused his wife of infidelity, villagers lied to aid him and Soraya was left with no support in the town. Her two eldest sons sat on the male tribunal that declared her guilty, and she was stoned by a mob that included her father. This book refuses to let such horror go unremembered.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
YA-While Sahebjam, an expatriated Iranian journalist, was in his native land on assignment for a French publication in 1986, he recorded this account. Zahra Khanum is an old woman whose niece Soraya was but one of over 1,000 people who were stoned to death in Iran in the last 15 years. Set solidly in a fundamentalist village, the story of Soraya's less-than-honorable husband; the false mullah, Sheik Hassan; and the events leading up to her stoning are relayed. The manipulation of government, church, and society by dishonorable persons; the lack of proof and villagers' support to save Soraya; and the mob mentality of the townspeople on the fateful day are all made clear. Students, parents, and teachers might want to discuss this work with Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery," or with historical events such as the Holocaust or the Salem witch trails. A powerful work that should generate thought in all of its readers.
Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.