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Critical Praise

"A luminous debut about a pair of star-crossed lovers in Iran during the last days of the Shah.... a well-crafted portrait of human love trapped in the vortex of history."
-Kirkus Reviews

"Her admirable prose is elegant, aphoristic and wise.... A meditation on revolution, Anahita Firouz's debut novel holds the reader steadily while retaining sadness of its period-- the years just before the Iranian revolution of the late 1970s. The author's admirable skills include an observant ear toward the niceties of people, an eye for cultural details, and an almost photographic sense of place. She evokes the Iranian countryside with abundant and colorful affection. Firouz's descriptions of urban locales and bucolic retreats, everyday plants and exotic flowers, people's clothes and personal idiocyncracies-- all come to life in a kaleidoscope of memory.... Without showiness or self-consciousness, Firouz tells the tale in colorful detail. Her descriptions of several leftist factions and their activities ring true, as does her close observation of family functions and social gatherings. She does not miss the subtleties of long-standing friends and acquaintances...In the Walled Gardens is an auspicious debut."
-Daniel Cariago, Los Angeles Times

"Firouz crafts dialogue that is profound at the appropriate time, while also being, as the occasion demands, witty, cynical, and even self-deprecating.... I can testify to her skill in revealing the great hypocrisy among the idel rich."
-Genieve Abdo, Washington Post

"There's an apocalyptic beauty in In the Walled Gardnes.... Romance is braided into Firouz's light and dark chapters with a restrained elegance, even as Iran's past crumbles and revolution looms..... Firouz's sarcasm often proves her best weapon."
- Tiffany Lee Youngren, San Diego Union Tribune

"An impressive attempt to inject the complicated historical background of Iran into a compelling story of love restricted by barriers of class and ideology.... The novel's details open a window into a culture that tend to be viewed one-dimensionally.... Other moments offer tender and lighthearted insight into the ways of families in a society obsessed with styel... Fueled by the love triangle and urgency of the revolution, there is undeniable momentum to the narrative."
-Christine Thomas, San Fransisco Chronicle

"Firouz expertly brings to life the tense atmosphere of the years before the revoltuion."

"Remarkable.... Firouz has written a first novel equal in scope and in art to the best works by Graham Greene, V. S. Naipaul, and other masters of this important genre.... As with all memorable literature, she creates complex characters and universal dilemmas that transcend a single setting.... In the Walled Gardens successfully accomplishes what great literature is meant to do: capture time, place, and character, make these real as well as transcendent, and finally, elicit empathy, insight, and understanding. This is a major achievement for a debut novel, for any novel."
-Bill Robinson,

"Firouz accounts for Iran's fall from grace, in complicated, but never convoluted detail.... In this lavish garden of the past, readers see what Firouz has sadly written is a wrenching ode to a withered homeland."
-Neena David Husid, Austin American-Statesman

"A rich first novel; a dramatic tale of love, family, and political upheaval.... Violent, frightening, and still tender and passionate, Firouz's debut is unique in its ficitonal subject matter and poetic in its prose.... In the Walled Gardnes takes readers on a remarkable journey back to an era both dark and hopeful and introduces two likable yet conflicted characters."
-Sarah Rachel Egelman,

"Anahita Firouz has set her first novel in that tempestuous period leading up to the Shah's flight into exile, when underground groups of rebels were starting to cause problems for the government and the iontelligentsia was discomfited by the foreign press's criticism of their country.... Firouz has captured some of the heady feeling of imminent combustion, the growing awareness that the regime must topple, and the exhilaration and fear that dominate.... Reza and Mahastee's love of country is all the more compelling given the reader's foreknowledge of the oppressive religious order that was about to take control."
-Ellen S. Wilson, Pittsubrgh Post-Gazette

"A sparse, but eloquent, portrait of a vanished era. Firouz explores and personalizes the terror and upheaval of revolution while exploring a lvoe lost, found and lost again."
-Joyce DeFranesco, Pittsburgh Monthly

"Haunting and elegant.... In the Walled Gardens is a poignant story of love and hope in the absence of illusion. Firouz's prose is spare yet eloquent. Her characters are all the more compelling for their reticence....One is unwittingly drawn into their lives and fates."
-Gelareh Asayesh, author of Saffron Sky

"In this fascinating novel, Firouz re-creates a vanished world, one of privilege and resentment, both of them hurtling toward the tumult and destruction of revolution. It is a novel full of the loss and longing that come with a world divided forever, people from people, past from present."
-Lynn Freed, author of The Mirror and House of Women

Selected Reviews of readers

Masterful story about a different edge to revolution. This is a masterpiece by Firouz. Don't be fooled by some of the editorial reviews and book jacket comments...this is not a romance. It's more a story of exile, of what happens when a country's politics end up shutting out an entire generation of people. And that's the book's power and beauty. Mahastee and Reza are both smart enough to recognize that ultimately they have chosen their fates, and to realize that whatever they might do, by virtue of social class, revolutionary association, etc., their fates are now out of their hands. It's what makes this book profound and tragic, and ultimately, the most realistic book you'll ever read about 1979 Iran.

- Brandita (see more on Brandita at October 8, 2002

I always wondered why I had to grow up outside of Iran, my country....I have my answer now. I just finished the book and I cried reading it and I cried hysterically after I finished. I cant believe I couldnt stop reading it, it was like living in that era and I didnt want to come out of it until I understood everything. Im a child of the revolution, I never saw the past Iran and always thought todays Iran had some how always been like this....but now I understand the complaints of westernizing. I had read all the facts about the history of Iran and taken classes at the university... but this book took those facts and made it a life story and made it real for me. I wondered for so long why my parents left Iran, why so many of us are lingering out of place... I knew the facts but I didnt understand the story, now I know. This book has further empowered my desire and vision to move back to Iran to recreate and start a new life for a new generation. Although, I didnt agree with the political thought in the book, the story was still very meaningful and enriched with a powerful perspective which I would have never captured anywhere else. Technically speaking, I found many words which I had never heard, at times handicapping my ability to understand some details. And without giving the story away, I really wished for a happier ending for the two, and I had to recreate the story that way for myself so that I can sleep tonight. Thank you Ms. Firouz for lighting another fuse of hope in me and giving me some way of understanding the story behind the facts.

- Seyede Katayon, an Iranian with plans to move back., September 17, 2002

This is an exciting look at a moment just prior to a pivotal event in the twentieth century. The story line provides a deep look at Iran just before the Khomeini revolution. Though readers will feel little empathy or attachment to Mahastee, Reza, or Houshang, fans of late historical tales will enjoy this vivid description of the late 1970s in Iran.

- Harriet Klausner, August 12, 2002