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The House of the Mosque [Paperback]

Kader Abdolah , Susan Massotty
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

13 Jan 2011
Welcome to the house of the mosque...Iran, 1950. Spring has arrived, and as the women prepare the festivities, Sadiq waits for a suitor to knock on the door. Her uncle Nosrat returns from Tehran with a glamorous woman, while on the rooftop, Shahbal longs only for a television to watch the first moon landing. But not even the beloved grandmothers can foresee what will happen in the days and months to come. In this uplifting bestseller, Kader Abdolah charts the triumphs and tragedies of a family on the brink of revolution.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd; Main edition (13 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847672418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847672414
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 112,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


An impressive book [telling] a tragic story illustrating the power of the human spirit to conquer. --The Bookseller

Expertly mingles fiction and personal history to create a thought-provoking novel to please fans of Khaled Hosseini, Mohsin Hamid and Azar Nafisi. --Waterstones Books Quarterly

Abdolah's is a powerful voice --The Times Saturday Review

Fabulously powerful and heart warming --Good Book Guide

Sensual, beguiling and elegantly translated. --Herald Arts

About the Author

Kader Abdolah (a pen name created in memoriam to friends who died under persecution by the current Iranian regime) was born in Iran in 1954. While a student of physics in Tehran, he joined a secret leftist party that fought against the dictatorship of the shah and the subsequent dictatorship of the ayatollahs. Abdolah wrote for an illegal journal and clandestinely published two books in Iran. In 1988, at the invitation of the United Nations, he arrived in the Netherlands as a political refugee. Kader Abdolah now writes in Dutch and is the author of several novels, including My Father's Notebook (also published by Canongate) and two collections of short stories, as well as works of non-fiction.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fable Like Masterpiece 17 Feb 2010
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER
How does one describe `The House of the Mosque' because it's not as easy to explain as it is to read? The book really is centred around the family of Aqa Jaan who live in the house next to the mosque (and also own it) in the Iranian province of Senejan and have done for eight centuries. Based on facts around the late 1970's and the years after, with some real historical figures thrown in the book is set over a pivotal period in Iranian history as the reign of the American backed Shah comes to an end at the hands of the Ayatollah.

I have to say from the premise I wasn't too sure about the book, wouldn't it be a bit too much of a political read? How on earth would I keep up with all the religious references etc? I needn't have worried because the way that Abdolah tells this tale you learn a lot without having noticed. That for me, who had no idea of what was going on in religious or political climates - other than it's been volatile to say the least was a sign of masterly writing.

The first half of the book introduces you to the huge family, its servants and some of the locals in a very fable like way. Some people may only appear for a chapter or two, some last the whole book before you know it you feel like one of the family. It's then the fact that you are a fan of the family (I thought Aqa Jann was wonderful and in some ways reminded me of Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird, you just cannot not like him and admire his passion for his family) that makes it so hard when everything changes in Iran and times of uncertainty and darkness effect the country and of course everyone in the house of the mosque.

The book is so filled with idea's, small plots behind bigger ones, characters galore and factual truth it's really hard to sum it up or in fact to do the book justice. It's a book that I think everyone should read as its eye opening, though provoking and magical story telling.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but flawed 9 Mar 2011
The book is about an extended family of three cousins, who live in the house attached to the mosque in a town in Iran. The central character is Aqa Jaan, a wise and respected man, who runs the household and the town bazaar. when the story begins, it is 1950 and Iran is under the rule of the Shah, and the imam of the mosque is the ineffectual Alsaberi. But things will change dramatically. There is unrest at America's influence over the Shah, and the increasing Americanisation of Iran through radio, television and cinema, which conflict with the traditional Muslim way of life.

My edition has a chart showing the main characters in the front and a glossary of Arabic words in the back - two things that make me groan - I like to read uninterupted without having to flick back and forth for explanations and reminders. But I needn't have worried, as the characters were, on the whole, well-formed and distinctive so I didn't really need the extra help.

The book covers an important and fascinating part of recent history, a story which should be told in the West, where perhaps not enough is known about it. The first part of the book which introduces Persian customs and the relationships across the family was an absolute delight - I particularly liked the part about the Grandmothers who want to go to Mecca. However, when the story reached the time of the revolution and the fictional characters came up against real life events and people, I found that rather than being the exciting climax I was expecting, the book lost its way somewhat. Too much bland historical information was given, breaking from the flow of the narrative about the characters. It would have been better if this could have been integrated better with the story, rather than reported blankly. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the book - it is just that that flaw made it just a good read rather than a great one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite live up to its' promise 11 Sep 2012
By Jimbo
The House in the Mosque is set in the Iranian city of Senejan, and follows the lives of an extended family from 1969, through the fall of the Shah to the repression many people suffered following the 1979 Revolution. Kador Abdolah has chosen a compelling backdrop for his characters, and clearly details the impact recent Iranian history has on the residents of the Mosque. For someone whose details on the Revolution are a little sketchy, I found the unfolding narrative fascinating. As well as telling the broad sweep of history, the book includes a number of entertaining small stories about life in the Mosque that helps to bring the book alive, and he has a real ability to create a sense of place.

Unfortunately the book is let down by the rather one-dimensional characters, whose lives are defined only by their reaction to and role in the Revolution, and appear to possess no depth other than the minimum needed to allow the author to explore differing aspects of the Revolution. Aqa Jaan aside, it was difficult to identify any real character development that occurred throughout the novel. There was also too much "tell" instead of "show" for my tastes, as Abdolah seems keen to leave no room for subtlety in any of the events or motives of his protagonists. The writing is occasionally a little clumsy, though it is not clear how much of this is down to difficulties in translation from the original Dutch.

Sadly this is a book that could have been brilliant - Abdolah is writing about something he is familiar with and is clearly passionate about Iran and all this shows through. Instead, the poor characterisation means that this book fails to rise above the average.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A delight. Sensitively told.
A lovely family story - beautifully told. Evoked a time when people were held in thrall to the Shah and were suspicious of the American influence. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Rae
3.0 out of 5 stars Full of characters
The book kept me fairly interested and was quite informative about Islamic life but it wasn't gripping. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Maxine Smart
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
have read another novel by this author, apart from being so well written, they help to understand what life is like in distant countries. Read more
Published 4 months ago by kindle lady
5.0 out of 5 stars The lovely House of the Mosque
This book ticked all the boxes. It was an easy read, written with feeling, flair and knowledge. Each chapter was a story in itself, making it easy to pick up and put down without... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Janie M
4.0 out of 5 stars Book
I ENJOYED reading this book it was interesting to read about what other people went through at such hard times in there life
Published 5 months ago by lorna
5.0 out of 5 stars The "War and Peace" of the Iranian revolution
That this novel about modern Iran was writeen in Dutch by an exiled author gives the measure of the cataclysm it relates. Read more
Published 6 months ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Very informative about the social history of the time. Well written and easy to live the characters. A must read.
Published 10 months ago by Col
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read!
This book was a fascinating read from start to finish. I could envisage the house of the mosque, and I could see the fish swimming around in the hauz. Read more
Published 19 months ago by ReshmiZulphay
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a bit pedestrian and slow
as a very interesting subject but didn't have quite the excitement that I expected. It may be because the author does not have English as his first language.
Published 19 months ago by map toffal
5.0 out of 5 stars House of the Mosque
The House of the Mosque traces the history of a traditional Muslim family whose job it was to look after a centuries-old mosque in an Iranian town, from the 1950s till after the... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Jonathan
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