Isolated and far from his native Iran, Ushman Khan has
worked hard to build a wealthy, reliable clientele for his
wares: exquisite hand-woven rugs from his home city of
With perfect rectitude, he caters to clients like New Yorks Upper East Side grand dame Mrs. Roberts, who plies him for stories about his exotic origins and culture to feed her own imagination. But like many immigrants, hes living only half a life. He dreams of the day his beloved wife, Farak, will be able to join him in New York and complete his vision of the American dream. But when she tells him that she is leaving him for another man, Ushman is shattered. He begins to wander aimlessly through the terminals of JFK Airport, imagining a now-impossible reunion with Farak.
Unexpectedly, he meets Stella, a Barnard College student who has just bade farewell to her parents en route for an Italian vacation. After Stella, isolated in her own way, finds herself at Ushmans Manhattan store, they embark on an improbable and powerful romance. Together this American girl from the Deep South and the Iranian aesthete form a tender bond that awakens them both to the possibility of joy in a world full of tragedy.
He cannot believe that it's true, but she is actually standing there
at six o'clock, on the corner of Broadway and 116th Street, wearing
an orange woolen poncho and baggy jeans. She has headphones covering
her ears and she's bouncing to the beat. For a moment Ushman
hesitates. There is no possible connection he could have to this
girl. They did not learn the same songs as children, she does not
know how the banks of the Talkheh become awash with color from the
rising or setting sun. In her heart is the memory of a different
landscape. She is from a different world; her trajectory, even
momentarily, could never mirror his own.
Against his better judgment, he stops and lifts his hand from the steering wheel in recognition. When she climbs in and smiles as she pulls off her headphones, he reminds his cynical self how nice she smells. Her eyes are welcoming, familiar. She is not a stranger. No more ...
At first glance a romance between an Iranian immigrant and an American college student almost half his age might lead the reader to expect shades of Lolita - but that is far from the case. What Mullins offers in her low key first novel is a lovely, melancholy story about shaking free from disappointment and finding connection and acceptance in whatever form they appear.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (632 words).
Meg Mullins was born and raised
in New Mexico, where she now lives with
her husband and their two children. The
story that formed the basis of The
Rug Merchant appeared in The Best
American Short Stories 2002.
Ushman is from Tabriz, which is the capital of the Iranian province of Eastern Azarbaaijaan. it looks like a beautiful place - mild summers make it a popular summer vacation spot for those escaping the heat of the south, and it's a popular winter sports destination due to the proximity of snow filled mountains.&...
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