When Isaac Amin sees two men with rifles walk into his office at half past noon on a warm autumn day in Tehran, his first thought is that he won't be able to join his wife and daughter for lunch, as promised.
Isaac Amin is a successful gemologist living in Tehran in 1982. He is also a Jew. And thus begins The Septembers of Shiraz, the story of Isaac and his family after he is arrested for - what? For being Jewish? For being wealthy? For being a success?
Besides Isaac, there is his wife Farnaz, who tries to hold her life and that of her daughter together after her husband's disappearance. His daughter, Shirin, who has her own secrets. His son, Parviz, a student in New York. Then there is the housekeeper, Habibeh, who may not be quite who she seems to be; her son, a revolutionary. Assorted relatives, acquaintances, friends. Everyone is trying to make their way in this new world where somehow everything has turned upside down.
It's a sad story, and gruesome, but also, always, hopeful.
The ending was a surprise to me. Not exactly unsatisfying, and not a quick pulling together of details to get the end over with. There were a lot of loose ends left. This bothered me till I realized that life often leaves loose ends.
"What time is it?" he asks. "Brother," says Hossein, "you have to learn not to think about time. It means nothing here."