Book Report: Echoes from the Other Land
When I first met a Muslim woman in ESL school, I realized that Toronto was a multicultural city. She wore a long thick sleeved shirt and long pants. Her whole head was covered by her scarf. I was shocked because it was in a hot summer. But I didn’t ask her anything about her clothes and her religion. I knew some people were very sensitive about this topic. I also didn’t have any knowledge about Islam.
TSAR Published fiction “Echoes from the Other Land” by Ava Homa (October, 2010) became my first novel to know the exotic Islamic women. The scene of seven stories was in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I can’t say that I had only experienced culture shock about the Islamic strict laws and the male chauvinism. I can say that I had felt strong emotions of the female Iranians through this book. In Islam, women had to be submissive to their fathers, brothers and husbands. They couldn’t move freely like their chadors. They were constricted like their tight scarf. But they had their wonderful passion. They cried and shouted how choking they were even though their voice didn’t reach nowhere.
Anis, a brilliant programmer, pushed her haughty husband away. Azar, a young divorcee, was forced to leave Iran and her only soul mate, Reza because people were ridden by extreme prejudices against divorcees. Kazhal, a beautiful woman, was thrown into the abyss of despair for her divorce. Noushin missed her aunt who became an American citizen when she was a child. She wore aunt’s red dress and red silk shawls and smoked while knowing that it made her husband uncomfortable. Sana, who was Qeshmi, was so poor. She didn’t realize that her hometown’s custom was unusual and cruel. Her last choice was sorrowful. She was one of the victims who suffered between their religions and their free wills. These stories were not only tragic tales but enjoyable and hearty episodes. I liked Sharmin who had Down’s syndrome. She was very ingenuous so Azad and Kazhal opened their hearts to her. “Glass Slippers” had a surprise ending and I enjoyed it. I searched the Internet for information on Islam and Iran. I tried to learn from keywords of the book. I saw a beautiful picture book of “A River of Milk and Honey”. It was the Quran story for the Islamic children. I wondered if this book was Sharmin’s favorite. I also listened to“Googoosh”. I knew that the Iranian law prohibited females from singing. Her performance was so passionate and her singing voice echoed in my heart. Now she expresses her song out of betrayal and oppression.
Last story, “Just Like Googoosh”, gave me the contrastive impression against other stories. Diako who had a sick wife, Fermisk, was different from these typical Iranian husbands of this book. He managed to cheer her up. He hid mirror not to let her be disappointed. I felt his entire love for her. She was faced with her illness and her beautiful hair fell out. He suggested shaving her hair. They tried to think as positive as possible. I thought his last word “Just like Googoosh” was not only her appearance but her life. Even if their life was not easy, his wife had a hopeless illness and they struggled against poverty, they still kept their hope and love. It may be the bottom of this book. Ava Homa wrote Sufi’s Proverb in the first page of this book: “If you cannot fly out of the cage, fly with the cage”. Iranian women’s life was more severe than I thought. This problem was really complicated. I felt that this author would call all Iranian women to stand up like her. Her words also gave me a hope to conquer all difficulties. I will read this book repeatedly.