Top critical review
Laughter in Delusions
on 20 October 2014
I enjoyed this madcap tale of an minor aristocratic family in Iran in the 1940s. Translated by Dick Davis into a modern, easy idiom it conveys the tale of the Head of the Family who becomes increasingly paranoid as he gradually begins to believe his own stories of daring exploits during the constitutional crisis earlier in the century, and the interactions of the family members including the young boy who is the narrator of the tale.
The story has a labyrinth of subplots and unusual characters, but with its own endearing, mad logic sustained throughout the piece the tale has great charm and humour. There is a gentle love story facing obstacles, family feuds, a shot-gun wedding that ends happily for the couple but not for those who set it up, a black veiled cousin who specialises in death and funerals, a comic side kick to the Head of the Family and a sympathetic and scheming uncle who drives the plot into surreal overdrive.
The description of the family houses on a large single plot and the gardens is accurate and provides an excellent backdrop to the intrigues of the family, while the characters are well drawn with their good points and failings emerging naturally in the plot.
I understand that the book was made into a very successful TV series in Iran in the 1970s and one can see how its strong visual descriptions would facilitate that.
It is very funny and full of warmth: a good read, and only because it is dated now did I give it only three stars