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Susanne Pari Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Fortune Catcher (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
In the Time of our History (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Susanne Pari
Susanne Pari is a journalist, essayist, novelist, book reviewer, and author interviewer.

She was born in New Jersey to an American mom and an Iranian dad, she grew up both in Iran and the United States until the 1979 Islamic Revolution that forced her family into a permanent exile. Ever since, her writing has focused on stories of resilience and trauma, of assimilation and identity, of belonging and displacement.

Susanne’s debut novel, called “The Fortune Catcher”, told the story about a young woman, Muslim and Jewish, Iranian and American, caught in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. The novel is a look under all of the secrecy which shrouds modern Iran and explores the dreams of the women there, as seen through the eyes of one Iranian American woman whose own life becomes a struggle between the new ways and the old. It’s been translated into six languages.

Her nonfiction work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and The Boston Globe.

Susanne does not believe that she could tell a story that didn’t involve a family in some way. She has always experienced and viewed the world from amidst this sprawling transnational clan of diverse people. She makes sense of large ideas by examining them within a tribal context. She starts with a single character, Mitra, and slowly yet inevitably learn about her tribe and their story.

She is a social person with a huge and spread out family, so her obligations to her loved ones have always taken precedence over her writing time. So lockdown wound up being quite helpful. After the initial panic, this group of writer friends and Susanne instituted what they called a Daily Surveillance Group on Zoom. While on mute, they made sure that everybody remained in their chair for a designated amount of time, then they whined or celebrated to each other about the work they were able to do or not do. This support and routine allowed her to finish a novel that she had been working on for way too long.

The poetic interludes in “In The Times of Our History” came to Susanne in a sort of flow state very late in the process of writing the novel. She figures that when you grapple with a story for a decade, something of it will grow inside of you until it bursts forth. That the linguistic metaphor, imagery, and lyricism of the interludes echo Persian poetry and storytelling was pretty uncanny to her. She cannot write or read in Farsi, however certainly a lifetime of exposure did have its influence on her writing.

The most stunning part to her was that she wrote precisely seven interludes, inserting them intuitively throughout the story, not realizing until later on the significance of the heptad in the rites and the customs of all Iranians since Zoroastrian times.

She finds that people that never change are boring and infuriating. For her, it is the characters that move plot, so an unchanging character results in an unsatisfying plot. In Mitra’s case, she not only wanted the character to change, but she also wanted her to be engaged in and cognizant of her change. Mitra believes she knows what is best for everybody and charges headlong into a scheme to try and fix things. She is unbearably judgmental and irreverent, a general pain in the neck. But at the same time, her strength, convictions, loyalty, and devotion are laudable. Susanne wrote her predominantly since she herself has always wanted to be more rebellious and brave.

“In the Time of Our History” is a stand alone novel that was released in 2023. Inspired by her own Iranian-American heritage, the acclaimed writer weaves this beautifully crafted tale about lies and secrets, daughters and moms, and defying expectations, even when such choices come with such an irrevocable cost.

Mitra Jahani, a year after her younger Anahita’s death, reluctantly returns to her parents’ home in suburban New Jersey to observe the Iranian custom of “The One Year”. Ana is always in Mitra’s heart, even though they chose different paths. While Ana was dutiful and sweet, bowed to their domineering dad’s demands and got married, Mitra rebelled, and she was banished.

Caught in the middle is Shireen, their mom, who is torn between her fierce love for her surviving daughter and her loyalty to her husband. But his callousness even amid shattering loss has compelled her to reconsider her own decades of submission. And once Mitra is forced suddenly to confront some hard truths about her sister’s life, and all the secrets each one of them hid in order to protect other people, daughter and mom reach a whole new understanding, and forge this unexpected path forward.

Alive with sacrifices, tensions, and joys which thrum within the heart of each and every family. This novel is also laced with the richness of modern and ancient Persian politics and culture in a story which is both profoundly relevant and timeless.

This is a beautifully written book and readers are still thinking about the women that inhabit these pages, the decisions they made, and the love between them. There is so much love and wisdom in this novel. Susanne understands the flawed and complex thing that is family, and carves right into the human heart’s center.

Finally a novel which captures the complexity of Iranian-Americans, this is that masterful gem. The novel also reminds us, like all great fiction does, about the dangers of secrets left unspoken and those that simply need to be said.

Susanne delivers a beautifully refined story of the secrets, conflicts, tragedies, and revelations that many immigrants and their American-born kids have to live through in order to preserve the fragile fabric of family in the diaspora. The novel provides the reader with a kaleidoscopic look at what it means to be be an American, what it means to be an Iranian-American, and what it means to be human. She has written a wonderful story which is both universal and unique, and is a must read tile in the new mosaic of American novels.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Susanne Pari

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