June 2013

The next generation’s burden to bear

By Sahar Delijani
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It’s 1983, the third year of the Iranian Revolution. Azar and her husband, both political activists, have been captured and are being held separately at Evin Prison. Azar is pregnant, a condition that brings her both hope and worry. What sort of life will a child born in prison, in a war-torn country, have to look forward to?

Omid is left sitting alone at the kitchen table after his parents’ arrest. He, his siblings and his cousin are raised by their grandparents while their parents serve time for their rebellion. What lessons can children of war learn from their parents’ experiences?

In her debut novel, Children of the Jacaranda Tree, author Sahar Delijani attempts to answer these questions while exploring the impact war has on its prisoners and those left safely outside. It’s a story Delijani knows all too well; she was born in prison during the Iran-Iraq conflict. And while both of her parents survived their imprisonment, Delijani’s uncle was one of thousands killed in a mass execution at the war’s end.

As the novel pings between the revolution of 1983 and the protests that followed the 2009 election, Delijani contrasts the experiences of parents and the children who follow in their footsteps decades later. Parents worry for their children as history repeats itself; the offspring come to realize how young and bold their parents were as they embarked on a revolution.

Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a beautifully rendered tale that reads almost like a collection of connected short stories, with characters’ perspectives and histories being unveiled as they intersect with one another. Throughout this thought-provoking account, a jacaranda tree stands as a stalwart witness to it all, providing comfort in its consistent presence.

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