Still Reading The House of the Mosque

27 04 2012

The House of the Mosque

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.





The House of the Mosque

6 04 2012

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I’ve started reading a novel called The House of the Mosque by Kader Abdolah. It caught my eye as I walked into Book World at Dubai Mall last month.

It’s set in Iran in the 1950s. It was written in 2005 and translated into English in 2010. The writing style is succinct and seems to find the right balance between austere and flowery. The narrative voice is interesting and is already quite personal, but the third-person omniscient narrator mode feels a bit passé, a bit like a school teacher.

Very enjoyable though. Let’s see where the author takes this narrative voice.





1Q84 – The Final Page

6 04 2012

When I reached the final page of 1Q84 – page 925 – I felt very satisfied. IQ84 is a rich tapestry of themes and genres. The fact that you never really know where it is going in terms of style – when realism turns to magical realism turns to sci-fi turns to a love story turns to fantasy turns to whodunnit – you constantly have to revisit what you read earlier.

This was an intelligent and well written novel, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading. And kudos to the translator! Never once did it read like it was a translation. In fact, when I saw the Japanese version of the novel at the Book World bookshop at the Dubai Mall, I had to open it to make sure there actually was a Japanese version in print.