The Magazine

A Family Tragedy

The human cost of the Iranian revolution.

Aug 13, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 45 • By ANN STAPLETON
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The presence of the unseen, unknowable child--who will he grow up to be?--comforts Isaac in his despair, and yet with such a heavy inheritance of hatred, the angel may well become the monster of future nightmares.

It is a sorrow to be reminded that, even after the revolution, Iran remains a country of families who love one another, who "want hot coffee, cool breezes, clean sheets, good love," who, even as Isaac does in his cell, must feel in their still-free hearts sequestered within captive bodies, that "a man has a right to want to live." In America, with another exile from home, Parviz listens to a cassette, the "deep, precise" voice of the man's cousin singing gazals, the singer having been executed the year before in Iran. In prison, a classical pianist, a friend of Farnaz's who once performed at the opera house, calls out Isaac's name just before he is shot, "his final audience a firing squad."

The music of the silenced plays through The Septembers of Shiraz, the notes exquisite and profoundly moving, meant to be exiled from the world and yet somehow still here, as when Isaac Amin's son Parviz, in a New York pizza shop, catches the strains of Frank Sinatra singing a "mellow song" that carries him back home, that "place in one's bones," to his father's study, on a peaceful Sunday morning in Iran.

Ann Stapleton is a writer in Ohio.