Excerpt from The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Blood of Flowers

A Novel

by Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani X
The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2007, 384 pages

    May 2008, 400 pages


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Print Excerpt

    Golnar traded some vegetables for a cutting from a rich neighbor’s bush and planted it, uprooting a few cucumber plants to make room. In time, the bush pushed forth extravagantly large blossoms. They were bigger than a man’s fist and as white as the moon. When a warm wind blew, the rosebush swayed, dancing as if in response to the nightingales’ song, her white buds opening like a twirling skirt.

    Golnar’s father was a liver-kebab seller. One afternoon, he returned home and announced that he had sold the last of his kebabs to a saddle maker and his son. He had bragged about what a good worker his daughter was—not a girl who would fall ill at the rancid fumes of tanning leather. It wasn’t long before the boy and his family paid a visit to the liver seller and his daughter. Golnar was not pleased: The boy’s shoulders and arms were thin, and his small, beady eyes made him look like a goat.

    After some tea and an exchange of compliments, the girl’s parents urged her to show the boy her garden. Reluctantly, she led him outside. The boy praised her healthy vegetables, fruits, and herbs and admired the rosebush’s beauty. Softening, she begged him to accept a few blossoms for his family and cut several long stems with her shears. As the two reentered the house, their arms filled with white blossoms, their parents smiled and imagined them on their wedding day.

    That night, after the boy and his family had left, Golnar was so tired that she fell into a deep sleep rather than visiting her roses. The next morning, she arose with a feeling of alarm and rushed outside. The rosebush drooped in the early-morning sun, its flowers a dirty shade of white. The garden was silent, for all the nightingales had flown away. Golnar pruned the heaviest flowers tenderly, but when she removed her hands from the thorny bush, they were streaked with blood.

    Penitently, the girl vowed to take better care of the bush. She poured a bloody bucket of water she had used to clean her father’s kebab knives onto the soil around the bush, topping it with a special fertilizer made of tiny pearls of liver.

    That afternoon, a messenger arrived with a marriage proposal from the boy’s family. Her father told her that a better boy could not be found, and her mother whispered to her coyly about the children they would make together. But Golnar wept and rebuffed the offer. Her parents were angry and puzzled, and although they promised to send a letter of refusal, they secretly sent a message to the boy’s family asking for time for reflection.

    Early the next morning, Golnar arose to the sweet music of nightingales and discovered that once again her roses stood large and proud. A wealth of blossoms had opened, nourished by the organ meat; they shone in the still-dark sky like stars. She clipped a few flowers from the bush, tentatively at first, and the plant caressed the tips of her fingers with its silky petals, exuding a musky perfume as if it desired her touch.

    On the morning of the family’s annual picnic to celebrate the New Year, the girl had so much to do that she failed to water her rosebush. She helped her mother prepare and pack a large picnic, and then the family walked to a favorite spot near a river. While they were eating, they happened to see the boy and his parents, who were picnicking, too. The father invited them to drink tea and share a meal of sweetmeats. The boy passed the finest pastries to Golnar, a kindness that surprised her now that she had rebuffed him (or so she believed). At their parents’ urging, the two took a walk together near the river. When they were out of sight, the boy kissed the tip of her index finger, but Golnar turned and ran away.

    When she and her family returned home, it was already dark. Golnar ventured into the garden to give the thirsty rosebush a drink. As she bent forward with a bucket of well water, a sudden wind whipped up and tangled her hair in the bush’s stems; the bush embraced her and held her tight in its long, thin arms. The more she struggled, the tighter its thorns gripped her, slashing her face. Screaming, she tore herself out, blinded by blood, and crawled back to the house.

    Copyright © 2007 by Anita Amirrezvani

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