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Dina Nayeri's debut novel, A Teaspoon Of Earth And Sea, is an exceptional story of an imaginative woman living in the conservative society of Iran. Saba Hafezi is an eleven year old girl who belongs to a small fishing village. The story is set in the 1980s in Iran, and Saba along with her twin sister, Mahtab, is fascinated by western culture and dreams of going to the US. They are so obsessed that they keep a list of English words and also collect smuggled copies of Bob Dylan cassettes and Life magazine.
However, fate has something different to offer to these twin sisters. Saba gets separated from her sister and mother during the chaos created after the revolution. She is left abandoned in Iran with her father, but she believes that her mother and sister have gone to the US, leaving her behind. Being certain about her thoughts, she starts weaving an imaginative world of her own where her mother and sister are living her dream of being in the States.
During her childhood, she had learned that fate is in the blood of a person, and from this she concludes that irrespective of the places where both the sisters live, both of them are bound to share the same fate. So even if they are miles apart, they will be living the same life. So, though she craves to be with her sister and mother, she is capable of using her imagination to create, a parallel life that is the Western version of her present life.
As the story unfolds, Saba happens to fall in and out of love and manages to handle the difficult circumstances in Iran and the limited possibility provided to the Iranian women. Saba's story is full of brutal reality as she lives in post-revolutionary Iran. On the other hand, her imaginary life, the one that she believes her sister is living, gives her the much needed freedom and control over her life.
The narrative of this book is full of vibrant characters that present an amalgamation of a simple Western prose and rhythms of Eastern storytelling. Published in 2013, the book has been translated into 14 foreign languages.
About Dina Nayeri
Dina Nayeri is an Iranian writer and a Teaching Writing Fellow. Born in Iran during a revolution in the country, she moved to Oklahoma with her family at the age of ten. She completed her graduation from Princeton University, and then attended Harvard University to complete her Master's in Education and to obtain an MBA degree. She has worked in a variety of industries such as management consulting and fashion. Recently, she attended the Iowa Writers Workshop and completed her MFA, and was a Truman Capote Fellow. Nayeri's works have been published in The Southern Review, Glamour, Salon, and Granta New Voices. At present, she lives in New York.