I mentioned in my review of Mahbod Seraji’s Rooftops of Tehran that he included a list of recommended reading for those with further interest in the culture or country of Iran. I thought that was pretty cool. But what was also a nice touch was this letter at the end of the book. I have printed it here with permission from the author and the publisher, with minor edits:
I’m thrilled to welcome you to the world of Rooftops of Tehran.
I discovered the gift of reading when I was ten years old, sitting on my own rooftop in Tehran and losing myself in a Farsi translation of Jack London’s White Fang. I was blown away by the power of words to take me to a place I hardly knew and make me feel as if I’d lived there all my life. It was an experience that never left me.
Much later, I began to write stories of my own and quickly realized that writing was more satisfying than anything else I’d ever done. I’d start early in the evening and pause at dawn, exhausted, elated and barely aware that the night had passed.
In writing Rooftops of Tehran, I wanted to acquaint readers with Iran, and bring to life a small part of the centuries-old Persian culture. At a time when the country of my birth is often portrayed in the news media as “the enemy,” I chose to tell a story about friendship and humor, love and hope, universal experiences valued by people in all times and places. I wanted to show a side of Iran that’s usually hidden from view — its warm, funny, generous people. Perhaps as you read the novel — as you meet Pasha’s friends Ahmed, Faheemeh, Doctor, Iraj and Zari; as you accompany Pasha down the alleys of his neighborhood; as you spend a night on his roof, peek into his neighbor’s window, and fall in love with the girl next door — you’ll understand my affection for Iran and its people. And you will see why the flame of hope for Iran still burns so fiercely in my heart, and in the hearts of so many Iranians at home and abroad.
Since I first lost myself in White Fang so many years ago, I’ve read hundreds of books, and often wished afterward that I could share my thoughts and feelings directly with the author. So I invite you to contact me. If you’d like the express a comment about my book, or if you book club would like to arrange to speak via speakerphone, contact me. I’d be delighted to discuss my novel, and share my story.
Mahbod Seraji was born in Iran and moved to the U.S. in 1976 at the age of nineteen. He received an MA in film and broadcasting and a Ph.D. in instructional design and technology from the University of Iowa. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he works as a management consultant. Visit his website for more information about him or his first novel.