I’m three-quarter through The House of the Mosque by Kader Abdolah. I can’t decide if this novel is really disjointed or cleverly multifaceted. It kind of jumps here and there. However, this novel has got bite.
I have to revise my earlier comments about the omniscient narrator. A few pages after I wrote my last post, I came to the conclusion that the narrator wasn’t really omniscient. Basically it was the House of the Mosque who was the narrator. Even though you learnt a lot about the different characters in the book, and saw events from different viewpoints, the centre of gravity and the focus of the narrator’s voice was in the House of the Mosque itself – not Qom, Tehran, Isfahan or some other part of Iran.
So, is the story disjointed or multifaceted? Well, like a large house with many rooms, this novel has many rooms, and as a reader you kind of walk in and out of these rooms. So right now, I’m with multifaceted rather than disjointed. The novel has a large number of unique, personal and delightful episodes and it’s weaving a fabric that becomes more and more distinct. I guess it’s the fabric of Iran.
You’ve got a lot of “serious fiction” moments. Great characterisation. Delightful details. But then you’ve suddenly got action and excitement. Sudden surprises. And with the passing of time, elements of an epic creeps in.
Over the last fifty pages or so, a lot of history has suddenly been introduced into the story. The focus actually varies a bit now between the House of the Mosque and events in Tehran, Iraq and Paris. And the House-of-the-Mosque narrator is becoming more of a liberal, taking sides, with a whiff of an academic who has thought a great deal about events in Iran over the past fifty-sixty years.
It’s a great read. I like it. It calls a spade a spade. It’s got bite. It’s not just a story with great character and local flair.