House of the Mosque, The

Abdolah, Kader

  9 Reviews

Having lived in the house attached to the mosque for eight centuries, Aqa Jaan and his kin epitomise a devout Muslim family. However, change is in the air: the Iranian revolution is underway and the effect on the extended family is tumultuous. With its heady mix of revolution and relationships, politics and power, this story brings to life a slice of Iranian history imbued with the author's own experiences. A captivating snapshot of the last days of the Shah and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

Comments from Groups

Everyone in our group really enjoyed this book. Had a great discussion - talked so much about different cultures, religions, beliefs. Nelson 056

We all loved this book. A wonderful insight into Mosque family life and its sad transition into modernity and revolution. Christchurch 257

We all thought this book was very good. Great writing, evocative and a great way to get a bit of history. Wanaka 012

Everyone thought it was a very worthwhile read. Great discussion and a wide range of issues covered. Auckland 039

Really liked this book. It was a simple story told like a fable but incorporated real historical characters and events. Te Awamutu 003

A noteworthy book; it left a strong impression of Iranian culture on us all. Not all found it a comfortable read for style and content however. The Arabic storytelling style takes some getting used to. The way it trivialises some trauma, expands on some trivia, glosses over outrage...makes it harder to empathise with characters. Not all our group were comfortable reading of inequal and degrading treatment of females. Definitely a thought provoker veiled in a grim fairytale, with an insight into the revolution that overturned the Shah. Whitby 003

Everyone really enjoyed this book - the skill of the author in giving us a picture of the family of the mosque brought it all to life. Many of the group were surprised at how much they enjoyed it, despite initial misgivings. The family tree at the beginning of the book was very helpful at identifying the various family members and their roles. A very skilful blend of the personal and the political - we felt we gained many insights into that particular time in Iran's history, and the portrayal of the conflict between the Western influences of the Shah, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism....Matamata 001

Some people found it depressing, while others enjoyed reading about the history and culture. People really enjoyed the "grandmothers" who went off to Mecca and didn't return. Warkworth 006

The chance to read it was appreciated by all members - we learnt a lot. A moving account of how American influence and changes in Iran's political power left people completely disempowered, confused and disillusioned by the way age-old values suddenly no longer counted. Taupo 005

We found this a very good and sympathetic (although sometimes horrific) book about the unsteady transition from the time of the Shah in Iran, to the Sharia law state. Lots of characters, beautifully drawn. Dunedin 058

A couple of people really enjoyed it. The majority persevered and enjoyed it more at the end. Some thought it lacked the depth of description to 'see' and 'smell' the bazaar etc, and that it lacked a writer's 'voice'. Having said that. the discussion was robust and very interesting. Auckland 343

Very enjoyable read. Serious issues and historical fact written in a readable way, Timaru 016



Group was very interested and found it informative and gripping. Some critique of sentence structure - maybe a translation issue. Very topical.
WELL 181
We didn't love the book. Several people didn't finish it, however it did prompt a good discussion.
TAKA 003
We loved the book - it led us to a vibrant discussion around the culture in which this book is embedded. Our 'first round' of free comments was so long it was difficult to get into the questions! We all felt our awareness/ understanding of the culture revealed was well enhanced. An excellent balance of the old and new, of fable and historical fiction.
This was a good book, giving us an insider's view of the old Iranian lifestyle under the Shah, and through the horrors and upheaval of the Revolution, to a hopefully more peaceful chapter to finish. We enjoyed discussing it, and have a better understanding of what is going on in that part of the world.
CHCH 196
Very much enjoyed by most of the group. Great discussion about all the different characters and where they ended up in the story - much was learnt about the Iran/Iraq war - some gaps in our knowledge were filled in. We all liked Aqa Jaan as a character, and loved the story of the grandmothers and their pilgrimage to Mecca. Great insights into a very different culture and religion.
A valuable insight to life, politics and religion in this part of the world.
AUCK 248
An interesting book, although a few felt it was somewhat disjointed. It was an interesting history lesson and an easy read.
We found the book gave an interesting insight into Iranian culture, but it was not an easy read. Large cast of characters and some were better drawn and more believable than others.
Many of us loved it or didn't bother to read it, as we have had similar books over the last few years. The fable start was hard going initially but once it moved into the story of the people, it became more interesting. It highlights traditional lifestyles and the fast transition to Western influences of the Shah, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and how every few years there are some stand out personalities, and if they have influence it can change whole nations we loved to see people really care about others and liked how the "grandmothers or servants" got their greatest wish!