Reading guide for The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

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The Blood of Flowers

A Novel

By Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of Flowers
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  • Hardcover: Jun 2007,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: May 2008,
    400 pages.

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Questions and topics for discussion
  1. What is the significance of the novel's title? What does it mean in terms of both the narrator and the story itself?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. The author decided to leave the narrator anonymous, as is the tradition in many folktales. When, if ever, did you realize that you didn't 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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 read?
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. 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

Fiction

  • 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 in 1990 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 1921–1991 edited by Heshmat Moayyad
    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 fantasy.
  • 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 Iranians.
     

Nonfiction

  • 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 "ax to 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 Iranian-American.
  • 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.

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