“Moon Brow” by Shahiar Madanipour— An Imaginative Love Story

Mandanipour, Shahiar. “Moon Brow”, translated by Sara Khalili, Restless Books, 2018.

An Imaginative Love Story

Amos Lassen

Shahiar Mandanipour’s “Moon Brow” is an imaginative love story narrated by two angel scribes who sit on the shoulders of a shell-shocked Iranian soldier in search of the mysterious woman who visits his dreams. Before he was injured by shrapnel that required the loss of his left arm, Amir Khan was a carefree playboy. Now he is in mental hospital for shell-shocked soldiers from which his mother and sister bring him home to Tehran. He has few memories yet he is haunted by visions of a mysterious woman he believes is his fiancée. He never sees her face but he does see a shining crescent moon on her forehead so he names her Moon Brow.

Amir has not lost his sense of humor even though he might have lot his sanity. He manages to get his sister, Reyhaneh to help him find the woman thinking that it might help the family. Amir has been tormenting their religious parents with his lovers and parties. Amir leave his parents’ house— his father’s guards hail him as a living martyr to the cause of Imam Khomeini and the Revolution, but thy treat him like a dangerous madman. Amir decides there’s only one solution to his dilemma and that is to return to the battlefield and find his severed arm and the engagement ring he bought for his fiancée.

The twin scribes, the angel of virtue and the angel of sin, continue to sit on Amir’s shoulders and narrate the story that is both wildly inventive and radically empathetic. It is a story that is steeped in Persian folklore and contemporary Middle East history and it is an epic look at love, war, morality, faith, and family. Shahria Mandanipour is one of the leading novelists of our time and one of Iran’s most important living fiction writers. His writing is exuberant, clever, profuse and filled with literary-political puns and references.