Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Questions and topics for discussion
- What is the significance of the novel's
title? What does it mean in
terms of both the narrator and the story itself?
- How would you describe the author's
writing style, and what do
you think this style brings to the novel? Did you find anything
striking or unusual about the way the story unfolds? Did it remind you of anything you have read before?
- How much did you know about Iranian history and culture before reading this book? Did anything in the story strike you as
completely unlike or surprisingly reminiscent of our lives
today? What do you think you gain from reading a novel about a
period in history, as opposed to a nonfiction historical account?
- The author decided to leave the narrator anonymous, as is the
tradition in many folktales. When, if ever, did you realize that
know the narrator's name? What effect did the ano nymity have on you as a reader? Does it matter whether or not
we know a character's name?
- Why do you think the author chose to include a number of Iranian tales throughout the novel? What did these stories add to
your understanding of the book and of Iranian culture as a whole?
Do you have a favorite story?
- Though The Blood of Flowers is set in a time and place that may be
very foreign to most readers, it is a universal story about a girl
reclaiming her life and coming into her own. In what ways is this
a familiar story? In what ways does this story differ from your
own experience or from other comingof-age novels you have
- The Blood of Flowers explores many different relationships in the
narrator's life with her mother, her father, her uncle, her
friend, and her husband, to name a few all bringing out different sides of the narrator. Which relationship did you find the
most compelling? Which did you find the most perplexing?
- What is the meaning of the final tale, and why do you think the
author chose to end the novel with this one? Is this the future
you see for the narrator?
- The intricate art of rug-making is incredibly important to the
story, and to the narrator herself. What do you think rug-making
represents with regard to the narrator aside from monetary benefit? What does it represent in the story itself?
Anita Amirrezvani's suggestions for further reading
- A Persian Requiem (also published as Savushun) by Simin Daneshvar
Published in 1969, this book is often described as the first novel
by an Iranian woman. It tells the powerful story of a family that is
forced to decide between feeding its own peasants and responding
to British Army demands for Iranian grain during World War II.
- The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat
This hallucinatory masterpiece was published in 1937 by one of the
greatest modern Iranian writers. Hedayat uses traditional Iranian symbols to convey existential angst and a precipitous descent into madness.
- King of the Benighted by Manuchehr Irani (Houshang Golshiri)
This wrenching novella was first published in English
under a pseudonym. It was inspired by the twelfthcentury tale
The Black Dome by the poet Nizami Ganjavi, which is included.
- Stories from Iran: A Chicago Anthology 19211991 edited by Heshmat
This book traces the development of the short story from its earliest Iranian practitioners to writers who came of age after the revolution in 1979. It includes short biographies and photos of the writers.
- Touba and the Meaning of Night by Shahrnush Parsipur
In this unforgettable story of a woman's
life during the tumultuous twentieth century in Iran, which spans the end of the monarchy
and the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, Parsipur seamlessly
weaves together political and social history with legend, myth, and
- My Uncle Napoleon by Iraj Pezeshkzad
This extremely funny novel, which was made into a popular television series in Iran in the 1970s, features the antics of an extended
Iranian family as seen through the eyes of a young lovestruck narrator.
It shows a comedic side of Iranian life that few Westerners see.
- Veils: Short Stories by Nahid Rachlin
These spare, beautiful stories about Iranians in the United States
and in Iran pack an emotional punch.
- The Mullah with No Legs and Other Stories by Ari Barkeshli Siletz
The author bases these stories on his fondly remembered youth
in Iran before the 1979 revolution, offering a fascinating cast of
characters from many different walks of life.
- Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian
Literature edited by Nahid Mozaffari and Ahmad Karimi Hakkak
This is an essential collection of Iranian fiction and poetry published since 1979, much of it translated into English
for the first
time. It features more diversity than some previous anthologies.
- Modern Persian Short Stories translated by Minoo Southgate
These short stories, many by noted authors, were published between 1932 and 1973 and provide a glimpse into the lives of typical
- We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs by Nasrin Alavi
A recent estimate puts the number of blogs in Farsi at eighty-five
thousand. This book provides a sample of some of the most provocative writing on the Web from young Iranians who range from student activists to women taxi drivers.
- New Visual Culture of Modern Iran: Graphic Design, Illustration,
Photography by Reza Abedini
This collection of recent posters and photographs demonstrates
the inventiveness of Iranian graphic design in recent years.
- To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America by Tara Bahrampour
Bahrampour was eleven years old when her family came to the
United States in 1979. This was the first major book to describe the experience of being Iranian in America in the post-revolutionary diaspora.
- Iran: A People Interrupted by Hamid Dabashi
This passionate view of Iran and its history over the past two centuries comes from a literature professor with a self-confessed
grind" about the damage done by colonialism and imperialism.
- Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America
by Firoozeh Dumas
Dumas makes us laugh as she recounts her experiences growing
up Iranian in America in the 1970s.
- Iran Awakening: From Prison to Peace Prize, One Woman's
Struggle at the
Crossroads of History by Shirin Ebadi
Having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, Ebadi, a human
rights lawyer, describes her struggles on behalf of Iranian women
and children, as well as the challenges of her personal life.
- A World Between: Poems, Short Stories, and Essays by Iranian-Americans
edited by Persis M. Karim and Mohammad Mehdi Khorrami, and
Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian
Diaspora edited by Persis Karim
These delightful anthologies of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry
provide wide-ranging perspectives on the experience of being
- Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution by Nikki R. Keddie
This is a thoughtful yet highly readable textbook on the 1979
revolution that includes a rich introduction to Iranian history before
that turning point.
- Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American
in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni
The author interweaves her own personal journey as an Iranian-American
with stories about reporting on Iran for publications in
the United States.
- Persepolis 1: The Story of a Childhood, and Persepolis 2: The Story of a
Return by Marjane Satrapi
These graphic novels tell of the author's
childhood in Iran after the Islamic Revolution and her return there after her studies in Europe.
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay Books.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.