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Sensitive and scintillating: Sholeh Rezazadeh's beautiful new novel is one not to forget

After her acclaimed and award-winning debut novel The sky is always purple Sholeh Rezazadeh impresses again with her second book. I know a mountain waiting for me is a tender, delicate and lush novel.

Stunningly sensitive

It is almost unbelievable that Iranian-born writer and poet Sholeh Rezazadeh (1989) has only lived in the Netherlands since 2015. Her command of language and manner of expression are stunningly sensitive and sparkling - and as sumptuous as her generous imagination and powers of observation

In her new novel I know a mountain waiting for me she takes the reader into a world so much more colourful and attentive than our raked, grey and indifferent Netherlands. To do so, she chose a bold and successful perspective: the story's narrator is a river.

Aras is a vibrant, important stream in a northern Iranian mountainous region. Animals and people come there to drink, wash and wash off their worries. In particular, Aras loves Saray, a young woman who populates the banks of the stream with her nomadic tribe. The beautiful Saray, radiant as the sun and with a smile "crisp as snow on the top of a mountain in early spring", makes Aras roar with joy.

Nomad life

Nomadic life is tough, but also peaceful and in harmony with the environment. They take only what they need and thank nature for it. Which can also be particularly cruel, as they know better than anyone.

They too notice that the seasons are changing. More fish die, the mountain peaks bear less snow every year, which also dries up Aras and turns into an "old scar on the wrinkled forehead of the slowly dying earth".

More and more people, especially young people, are moving to the city, where life is easier but also crowded, noisy and barren. This is evident in the story of Alma, a Dutch woman who has temporarily left her Amstel to visit Aras, the river about which her Iranian grandmother sings daily. The contrast between Alma's world and Saray's could not be greater.

Small and big

Colours, scents, feelings - Razazadeh appeals to all the senses and shows delicacy and exuberance in her use of metaphors. In this land of 'act normal, you'll be crazy enough', her imagery may be a little too generous for some. But how delightful it is to let yourself drift for a while on the dreamy, wistful flow of her language and dwell amidst her heartwarming characters. A small and grand story, not soon to be forgotten.

Sholeh Rezazadeh, I know a mountain waiting for me (188 p.), Ambo Anthos, €21.99

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A Quattro Mani

Photographer Marc Brester and journalist Vivian de Gier can read and write with each other - literally. As partners in crime, they travel the world for various media, for reviews of the finest literature and personal interviews with the writers who matter. Ahead of the troops and beyond the delusion of the day.View Author posts

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