Summary and book reviews of Man of My Time by Dalia Sofer

Man of My Time

by Dalia Sofer

Man of My Time by Dalia Sofer X
Man of My Time by Dalia Sofer
  • Critics' Opinion:

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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2020, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2021, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kelly Hydrick
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the bestselling author of The Septembers of Shiraz, the story of an Iranian man reckoning with his capacity for love and evil.

Set in Iran and New York City, Man of My Time tells the story of Hamid Mozaffarian, who is as alienated from himself as he is from the world around him. After decades of ambivalent work as an interrogator with the Iranian regime, Hamid travels on a diplomatic mission to New York, where he encounters his estranged family and retrieves the ashes of his father, whose dying wish was to be buried in Iran.

Tucked in his pocket throughout the trip, the ashes propel him into a first-person excavation―full of mordant wit and bitter memory―of a lifetime of betrayal, and prompt him to trace his own evolution from a perceptive boy in love with marbles to a man who, on seeing his own reflection, is startled to encounter someone he no longer recognizes.

As he reconnects with his brother and others living in exile, Hamid is forced to reckon with his past, with the insidious nature of violence, and with his entrenchment in a system that for decades ensnared him.

Politically complex and emotionally compelling, Man of My Time explores variations of loss―of people, places, ideals, time, and self. This is a novel not only about family and memory but about the interdependence of captor and captive, of citizen and country, of an individual and his or her heritage. With sensitivity and strength, Dalia Sofer conjures the interior lives of the "generation that had borne and inflicted what could not be undone."

1

AROUND ME WAS AN ANT COLONY of black motorcars. In my jacket pocket, hidden inside a mint candy box, were the ashes of my father—Sadegh Mozaffarian—dead for two weeks and estranged from me for thirty-eight years. And next to me, in the back seat of our sedan, was my boss, the minister of foreign affairs. The Iranian delegation—among them the Minister, myself, a couple of translators, and a half dozen security men—was confined to a few designated New York blocks, beyond which we were not permitted to go. "It's like a goddamn prison," I said to the Minister on the first day of the United Nations General Assembly, when I realized the constraints of the phantom barbed wire fencing us in, and he said, "Hardly. You of all people should know."

His optimism had been tested throughout the trip. Once again American promises had been made to us and broken, the most recent excuse being a tiff between our respective navy ships in the Persian Gulf. The Americans pointed ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Covering a range of decades but set against the political backdrop of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Dalia Sofer's latest novel, Man of My Time, is a quietly powerful retrospective look at the accumulation of moments and choices that form a life. Sofer's prose can at times be more telling than showing; however, overall this works for the story. She has a way of slicing right to the heart of a scene, utilizing unexpected and profound imagery that reminds me a bit of Persian poetry, in which multiple lines might approach a theme in different ways...continued

Full Review (758 words).

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(Reviewed by Kelly Hydrick).

Media Reviews

New York Times
The arc of Hamid’s life is finely wrought, a master class in the layering of time and contradiction that gives us a deeply imagined, and deeply human, soul — an enviable skill always, but essential for attaching us to a character who, despite his attempts at self-betterment, is essentially unforgivable...The beating heart of American literature has always been the contributions of those looking both forward and back, both at America and at the world.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[M]esmerizing and unsettling...Readers will find Sofer's meditation on power's ability to corrupt as relevant and disturbing as the day's headlines.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A perceptive, humane inquiry into Iran's history and soul.

Booklist (starred review)
A gorgeously written character study that examines, with sensitivity and pathos, the small steps that lead a man down an unexpected and ultimately isolating path.

Library Journal (starred review)
A memorable and difficult character who can be seen as embodying the spiritual distress of Iran since the 1978 revolution. A powerful, complex, and profoundly anguished novel made more relevant by current tensions.

Author Blurb Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, author of Brief Encounters With the Enemy and When Skateboards Will Be Free
Man of My Time is a brilliant, gripping account of countries, politics, and the long reach of history. But it's also a story of family, the human soul and what it means to be alive today—for Iranians and Americans alike. This book could not have arrived at a more urgent time.

Author Blurb Joan Silber, author of Improvement
With Iran so intensely before us, Man of My Time does what only fiction can do. We are inside the mind of a man whose choices keep stunning us, in the violence of politics and in the intimacy of family. A masterful novel, eye-opening in its tale of the multiplying costs of betrayal.

Author Blurb Mark Sarvas, author of Memento Park
In Dalia Sofer's engrossing and deeply moving novel, the revolution devours its children. Her memorably flawed narrator Hamid imperfectly navigates violence, inheritance, betrayal, and 'so much sorrow' in post-revolutionary Iran. It is a beautifully conceived and heartbreaking family portrait.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran

Mohammad Reza Shah Dalia Sofer's novel Man of My Time spans from the mid-20th century to the present day. Set in both Tehran and New York City, it encompasses the decades leading up to the 1979 Iranian Revolution—when Iranians from both Islamist and leftist organizations overthrew the Western-backed Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi—as well as the revolution itself, its aftermath and the modern geo-political situation between the U.S. and Iran. While reading, I found myself wondering about the Shah's regime in Iran before the rise of theocratic government.

Mohammad Reza was educated in Switzerland as a teenager and became Shah during World War II when the Allies deposed his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi, who had connections with Germany and had ...

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