Behind The Novel

The time and setting of "In the Walled Gardens" is Tehran about two years before the 1978 Revolution. What mattered most for Anahita in writing this novel was to bring to life the complexity of an entire society, trying to find its sense of identity and balance, unaware that it was in fact on the verge of destruction. This is a chronicle of the last days of elitism in Iran, and the subversive forces that colluded to disrupt and ultimately topple it. But "In the Walled Gardens" is subversive itself- questioning all conventions and authority, regardless of era or ideology. Structured like a vortex, it is an unflinching view of history, where all things- passion, intimacy, politics, loyalty, ambition- are trapped, betrayed, and sucked in. The world of this novel is on the brink of a paradigm shift. The interwoven narratives of the two main characters, and by extension the people in their lives, are about intersecting worlds at odds both politically and socially. The novel captures that brief moment in time when they all converge only to be driven even further apart.

Ms. Firouz believes that Iran today is misunderstood and seen in one dimension. Its ancient and complex history and civilization pass virtually ignored, and it is narrowly defined by its last twenty years as an Islamic Republic. Fundamentalism or Marxism, monarchy or theocracy- Iran's basic problems remain: freedom, democracy, religious reform and human rights. The characters and dilemmas in "In the Walled Gardens"- whether emotional, social or political- are timeless, profoundly Iranian, and fundamental to that society. The forces that drive the characters and are the novel's underpinnings still prevail, relevant and vital to understanding a country and its people. Especially these days, as Iran- whether by external forces or through internal evolution- is going through yet another paradigm shift.