“Set during the Iranian Revolution, To Keep the Sun Alive is a beautifully written family epic that will completely wrap you up. It’s a sweeping novel about identity and tradition, and it’s full of characters you won’t soon forget. Ghaffari masterfully blends the historical with the imagined, and her writing is wise and precise. An excellent novel!”
— Sarah Cassavant, SubText Books, St. Paul, MN
“Casting us back to a turning point in Iranian history, To Keep the Sun Alive beautifully renders a world of contrasts. When Bibi’s family gathers for lunch, there are many world views both around the table and hidden from view. Acceptance and fundamentalism, romance and tradition, love and violence are all present, daring her to try to keep the peace amongst such passionate advocates. Bibi’s husband is the voice of moderation, while his brother is a fundamentalist mullah, and the weight of their choices has devastating repercussions. Rabeah Ghaffari’s impressive debut will leave you reeling. As more is revealed and the deadly conflict finally arrives, the impact of what was lost during the revolution becomes palpable.”
— Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
The year is 1979. The Iranian Revolution is just around the corner, as is a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse. Meanwhile, in the northeastern city of Naishapur, a retired judge and his wife, Bibi, run an ancient orchard, growing apples, plums, peaches, and sour cherries, and looking after several generations of family members. The days here are marked by long, elaborate lunches on the terrace and arguments about government corruption and the rise of religious fundamentalism, peppered with tales of ancient Persia that foreshadow the seismic political changes to come. And yet life continues.
Bibi, the matriarch, struggles to keep her family together. Her young nephew goes to the university, hoping to lead the fight for a new Iran and marry his childhood sweetheart. Another nephew surrenders to opium, while his father longs for a life in Europe. Her brother-in-law evolves into a powerful Islamic cleric while her husband retreats into intellectual reflection.
Told through a host of vivid, unforgettable characters, ranging from children to servants to friends of the family, To Keep the Sun Alive is the kind of compelling, rich story that not only informs the past, but also reminds us of the human aspirations that animate historical events.