From Iran to America, One Epic Tale at a Time

When I used to be rising up, my bedtime tales concerned nice warriors and kings, the heroes of historic Persia. Many got here from the “Shahnameh,” an epic Persian poem that weaves the historical past of Iran like a colourful tapestry. In “Everything Sad Is Untrue,” Daniel Nayeri weaves an equally wealthy historical past of his household’s journey from Iran to America.

In this epic story, our hero is Khosrou, a 12-year-old boy named after a actual king. His battle? Fifth grade. Khosrou lives in Oklahoma, having fled Iran along with his sister and his mom, whom the key police threatened for practising Christianity. Khosrou’s father stayed behind.

In Oklahoma, issues aren’t nice for Khosrou. His father is simply a voice on the telephone; his mom, who was a physician in Iran, has to work totally different jobs to make ends meet; his classmates shoot paper clips at his neck.

But in Mrs. Miller’s class, Khosrou is a storyteller. He has a treasure chest of recollections and household myths. His project is to inform them. In the tales he weaves, Khosrou’s household just isn’t poor however had their land stolen generations in the past, and his dad remains to be with him. Khosrou spins these tales like a modern-day Scheherazade: He understands the manipulative nature of storytelling, how he can use it to string his classmates alongside. To survive.

“Everything Sad Is Untrue” is a love letter to storytelling. Some of its most genuine and intelligent moments are when Khosrou’s classmates interrupt his tales. They ask what the bogs in Iran appear to be, and the way the bathrooms work. (You squat.) They even hurry him alongside. “Get to the point,” they are saying in the course of a notably long-winded story.

Khosrou’s instructor chimes in, too; she tells him he’s “lost the plot,” or he’s “not allowed to write about poop for class assignments anymore.” (He’s a modern-day Scheherazade, however he’s nonetheless a 12-year-old boy.) Khosrou’s tales are a mixture of epic and on a regular basis, and also you get the sense that he’s telling sure ones to keep away from actual vulnerability. “Fine,” he concedes when Mrs. Miller calls him out on one other poop story, “I’ll write the emotional parts.”

This just isn’t your typical novel. There’s little in the best way of plot; there aren’t even chapters. But that’s the purpose: It’s a mishmash. As Nayeri writes, “A patchwork story is the shame of a refugee.” Stick with Khosrou, although, and also you’ll be rewarded.

The reward is empathy. Early on, Khosrou tells the reader, “The quick version of this story is useless. Let’s agree to have a complicated conversation.” “Everything Sad” invitations us not simply to see one other perspective however to stay in it. It’s openhearted storytelling after we want it most, an antidote to our divided instances.

Nayeri pours an ocean of humanity onto these pages. Even the legendary characters profit from Khosrou’s empathy. He tells the story of Khosrou and Shirin, a well-known tragic romance during which the lovers commit homicide to be collectively. But then Khosrou (our narrator, not the king) properly factors out that two well-known Persian poets inform the story in another way. In one model, Shirin is a “jealous maniac.” In the opposite, she’s “too pure for this world, and too sad.” In his model, she’s a combine.

For a novel chock-full of classes, “Everything Sad” hardly feels didactic. Many of the ebook’s most transferring moments are netted with humor, irreverence, all of the lighthearted enjoyable you’d anticipate from a 12-year-old boy. And Khosrou is self-aware. He acknowledges from the very first line that his tales are solely as true as his (and historical past’s) reminiscence. Myths and legends change over time. He’s achingly sincere about that along with his readers. Or is it his listeners? I can think about younger folks begging to learn these tales aloud to their buddies, their dad and mom.

“Everything Sad” is a fashionable masterpiece — as epic because the “Iliad” and “Shahnameh,” and as heartwarming as “Charlotte’s Web.” It’s for the children at the lunch desk; the heroes of tomorrow, simply trying to survive the battle of adolescence.

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