A Girl Called Rumi
A Girl Called Rumi, Ari Honarvar’s debut novel, weaves a captivating tale of survival, redemption, and the power of storytelling. Kimia, a successful spiritual advisor whose Iranian childhood continues to haunt her, collides with a mysterious giant bird in her mother’s California garage. She begins reliving her experience as a nine-year-old girl in war-torn Iran, including her friendship with a mystical storyteller who led her through the mythic Seven Valleys of Love. Grappling with her unresolved past, Kimia agrees to accompany her ailing mother back to Iran, only to arrive in the midst of the Green Uprising in the streets. Against the backdrop of the election protests, Kimia begins to unravel the secrets of the night that broke her mother and produced a dangerous enemy. As past and present collide, she must choose between running away again or completing her unfinished journey through the Valley of Death to save her brother.
"This stellar first novel marks the writer as an author to watch."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A Girl Called Rumi is a magical journey to a world of mystical delights, enchantment, and revelation. It's a page-turner that goes deep into the nature of reality beyond perception.”
—Deepak Chopra, MD
"I was utterly captivated by this book. In A Girl Called Rumi, activist artist and writer Ari Honarvar manages to weave potent Sufi teaching stories, a gripping mystery set in the midst of the upheaval of the Iran-Iraq War, and beautiful writing into a magic carpet that transported me from the moment I opened the book to the moment I reluctantly turned the last page. Highly recommended."
—Mirabai Starr, author of Wild Mercy and Caravan of No Despair
"Ari Honarvar’s gorgeous debut novel, A Girl Called Rumi, shuttles between Iran and America as it grapples with the trauma of the Iran-Iraq war, the crackdown on female freedoms, and intergenerational conflict as well as the costs of resilience and forgiveness as children and parents are forced to make difficult decisions. This is a pulsating and culturally rich Iran seen through the eyes of its fables, its storytellers, its poetry, and its politics. In delicate and meditative prose, Honarvar takes her unforgettable characters— mystics, siblings, parents, best friends, enemies, fanatics— on a journey through the ‘Seven Valleys of Love’ eventually culminating in how healing happens, or doesn’t, and how to move on. Iran’s poets and poetry guide this heartfelt novel into a story as majestic as the thirty birds who make up the Simorgh, the fantastical being and mythical heartbeat of A Girl Called Rumi. "
— Soniah Kamal, author of Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan
“From the horrors of Iran-Iraq war to the complex reality of modern-day Iran, this is a novel that is as mesmerizing and dynamic as the Persian poetry it carries.”
—Sahar Delijani, author of Children of the Jacaranda Tree
“This is a lovely, illuminating and touching debut novel. I was moved to tears reading this manuscript. Ari Honarvar is a brilliant writer and readers hunger for stories like this—full of fascinating new worlds and redemptive outcomes.”
—Rene Denfeld, author of The Child Finder
“Storytellers, mythical birds, and bombs collide in Honarvar's lyrical coming of age novel about post-revolution Iran.”
— Marivi Soliven, author of The Mango Bride