The Quince Seed Potion is an Iranian émigré writer's novel set against the backdrop of Iran's turbulent modern history and spanning the years 1928 to 1981. It is a saga of the devotion and love, violence and humiliation in the life of Sarveali Jokar, a servant to a great dynastic family of rural landowners and a man whose changing fortunes mirror the changes in Iran and the disintegration of the wealth and power of the family dynasty as the Islamic Revolution of 1979 unfolds. The Quince Seed Potion is helpful to understanding the past from which present-day Iranian society emerged, and the customs and traditions that shaped the minds of its people.
Sarveali, sold into indentured servitude as a youth, dedicates his life to serving the Shirlu khans. They are the only family he knows, and even in the face of contempt and cruelty he remains loyal to his masters through their own travails. His adventures are recounted in a series of episodes reminiscent of the Persian classic One Thousand and One Nights. His homoerotic affection for his favorite master and boyhood companion, Teimour Khan, although rejected, sustains Sarveali through the years. His adventures, including marriage to a cousin, her repeated promiscuity and eventual murder, his opium addiction and imprisonment, recall the ups and downs of Voltaire's Candide.
As the khans are forced into exile or assassinated and Iran is transformed from a monarchy to an Islamic state, the reader is asked to decide if Sarveali's selfless life is totally tragic or suggests a kind of redemption for both the servant and his country.
Morteza Baharloo (www.mortezabaharloo.com) was born in Iran in 1961, emigrated to the U.S. in 1978, and now lives in Houston. He is chairman and co-founder of Healix, Ltd., a Texas-based international provider of pharmaceutical and health-care services. He returns periodically to Iran, where he is restoring rural estates built by his grandfather and great uncles in the 1920s.
"The Quince Seed Potion is a daring and unique novel. Through the deeply passionate eyes of a simple-minded peasant, Mort Baharloo craftily reveals the transformation of a feudalistic society into a struggling nation of modern times. Most alluring is Baharloo's unwavering commitment to Sarveali's point of view; in him, we see our ignorant selves, our naive and hopeful selves, our dishonorable selves, and our needy selves who long so desperately for appreciation, love, and dignity. The Quince Seed Potion is a book important for our times, a tale that will remind us that tradition is not so easily expunged by modern logic."
Susanne Pari, author of The Fortune Catcher
"A vigorous, raunchy tale spanning fifty turbulent years
of Iranian history."
Gelareh Asayesh, author of Saffron Sky: A Life Betwen Iran and America
"The Quince Seed
Potion is a raw and beguiling epic that offers up an intimate view of a world
still unknown to most. It is at once brutal, tempestuous and indulgent
while also tender, spiritual and passionate. The character at the center of this
tale, Sarveali, will become a literary classic."
Jewelle Gomez, author of The Gilda Stories
"A deeply affecting novel. Sarveali could be one of the dispossessed of
the earth, whose tragedy lies in accepting, without questioning, an unjust
social system. But maybe
this is not fully a tragedy, after all. The weak have weapons, and one of them consists in working to their advantage a fully disadvantageous system. Sarveali may know more than us."
Jose Edmundo Paz-Soldan, author of The Matter of Desire
"The Quince Seed Potion powerfully captures the dilemma of being caught between one's individual desire and that of tradition. The turbulence in the protagonist's personal life mirrors the fluctuating and often violent shifts in Iran's recent history. The novel is an honest, unsparing, poignant account of a world at once cruel and beautiful."
Nahid Rachlin, author of Foreigner, Married to a Stranger, and The Heart's Desire
"This is a novel that is simultaneously exotic and familiar, exotic in terms of locale and people but familiar in terms of the trials and tribulations of humans everywhere."
M.K. Ghanoonparvar, professor of Persian and Comparative Literature, University of Texas, author of In a Persian Mirror, and Kanizu: Stories, Translating the Garden
"...engrossing, elegantly told story..."
... Payvand News - 12/13/04 ... --