The King, young Shah Naser, takes to the throne of Persia at a turning point of history: he inherits an enchanted medieval world of harems, eunuchs, and treasures as well as a palace of secret doors, sudden deaths, and hidden agendas. Within the court is danger eugh: outside all manner of change threatens-industrialization, colonization. Russia and England conspire to open the King's empire; his mother and his vizier take opposing sides. The poor King-almost an exact contemporary of Queen Victoria-is trapped. He likes some aspects of modernity (electricity, photography) but can't embrace democracy. He must be a sovereign: he must keep his throne. The King cant face change and he cant escape it. With this gleaming and seemingly simple story, breathlessly paced and beautifully told, Kader Abdolah, the acclaimed Iranian emigre velist, speaks of deeper truths. A vel which has many timely things to say about eras of change and upheaval, The King is an unforgettable book.
Kader Abdolah is the pen name of Hossein Sadjadi Ghaemmaghami Farahani. Opposed to the rule of the last Shah and that of the ayatollahs who followed, he lives in Holland and writes in Dutch. Abdolah's The House of the Mosque and My Father's Notebook have appeared in English here, and he has been acclaimed moving and illuminating (Publishers Weekly), captivating and distinctive (TLS), and clean and lyrical (Kirkus Reviews). Nancy Forest-Flier has translated books by Truus Matti and Marleen Westera.