A friend from my program mentioned this novel in class last week. The class was discussing magic realism novels, and most of the ones we could think of were set in South America. Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith is a novel by Gina B. Nahai set mostly in Iran, and partly in America.
The story opens in a Jewish ghetto in Tehran, where Roxanna the Angel is born. She dreams of the sea, and wakes in feathers. As with many magic realism stories, this one is generational. There are many mothers and daughters in this novel, which is narrated by Roxanna’s daughter, Lili. When Lili is five years old, she watches Roxanna sprout wings and fly off into the night. This novel tells the stories in Tehran leading up to that night, and the stories that happen afterwards in Los Angeles.
When I first picked up this novel at the library, it was a lot thicker than I imagined and the cover made it look emotionally and intellectually heavy. Actually, I read it in two days because I couldn’t put it down, and the writing is beautiful, lyrical, and very accessible. Because it is a magic realism book, it does have fantastical elements. The character names are mythic too, like Alexandra the Cat and Sohrab the Sinner.
I really needed a great book this week. With course work piling up and papers to be researched and written, I needed something to take me far far away, and this was it.