Rooftops of Tehran

Written by Mahbod Seraji
Review by Lisa Ann Verge

In this stirring coming-of-age story set in Iran under the Shah, Mahbod Seraji pens a poignant tale of forbidden love in troubled times.

On the rooftops of Tehran in 1973, 17-year-old Pasha and his best friend, Ahmed, sleep off the heat of a carefree summer, joking, laughing, and talking about their futures. Pasha plans to become a filmmaker in America, but for the moment he has a guilty secret: He is in love with his neighbor, Zari, a beautiful girl a few years older than himself, who has been betrothed since birth to “Doctor,” Pasha’s good friend and mentor. When Doctor is arrested for activities against the Shah, Pasha and Zari are thrown together in anxiety and grief, a bond that deepens after Doctor is executed in prison. But guilt and uncertainty work to undermine their relationship, as does Pasha and Ahmed’s growing anti-Shah sentiments. When one of them, frustrated by powerlessness, commits a desperate act of violent political protest, all three lives are altered forever.

Full of domestic details about the everyday lives of middle-class Iranians, Rooftops of Tehran evokes a warm sense of community and nostalgia even in a time of great troubles. The author, himself an Iranian immigrant to the U.S., has poured his heart into this lovely story – and it shows.