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Oregon Book Awards Finalist: We Heard the Heavens Then

You can cast your vote for the 2013 Readers’ Choice Award online at oregonlive.com/books.  The winner will be announced at the Oregon Book Awards ceremony on April 8th at the Gerding Theater at the Armory.
2013 Oregon Book Awards Finalist
We Heard the Heavens Then by Aria Minu-Sepehr
Free Press
Creative Nonfiction
We Heard the Heavens Then is a memoir of a boy in revolutionary Iran.  Seen through the eyes of a ten year old with unusual access to the two poles of his society–modern and traditional–the tale recounts the rising tension, collision, and eventual fallout of the split.
An excerpt from We Heard the Heavens Then
He poured his love and energy into me with such intensity that, as I looked back on my young life, I saw a seamless merging with the man I called my father.  We attended the first day of kindergarten together.  We inspected military hardware together.  Together, we did homework.

“Penmanship starts with your own shaped quill,” he explained to me over one calligraphy assignment, “not some Bic or even a fancy fountain pen.”  He gathered half a dozen stalks of bamboo, then cupped his hands around mine and showed me how to whittle.  “Take off a small sliver at a time.  See?  You have to will this thing into life, convince it of its new, noble role.”  In his caring, persuasive hands, the stick and I were both convinced.  

“Here’s the mouth of an N exactly three dots wide,” he’d say.  “Look at Hnot just a lifeless loop, but the marvelous shape of a pregnant woman.  Think of J as the upper lid of an eye.  Make it a dark, flirtatious eye.  Can you feel it flirting with you?  Now center a mole on her cheek.  Gorgeous!”

About the Author
Aria Minu-Sepehr started a second life in America at ten, a political refugee fleeing fundamentalism in  his homeland.  Professionally, he has strived to bring a greater understanding of Iran and the Middle East to his new home and to highlight the respect that exists between East and West outside politics.
Praise for We Heard the Heavens Then
“Aria Minu-Sepehr’s memoir about growing up in Iran before the fall of the Shah is an exquisitely told tale brimming with sensuality, humor, and humanity.  Minu-Sepehr vividly captures the intense yearning and bewilderment of childhood as he, like a modern-day Shahrazad, unravels a rich and unforgettable tapestry of true-life stories set in a country on the verge of revolution.  We Heard the Heavens Then is a son’s eloquent tribute to his father and to the beloved country he had to leave behind.  –Mira Bartok, author of New York Times bestselling The Memory Palace

“We Heard the Heavens Then” is an extraordinary story of a child who sees his Paradise turn into Hell, an exhilarating work that reveals the delusions of the Shah’s regime about modernity and exposes the terrifying nature of the turbaned beards’ dogma.  An intelligent, witty, honest, and hilariously funny but also heartbreaking memoir.  A remarkable book written by a brilliant writer.  A great read.” –Fadhil Al-Azzawi, author of aThe Last of the Angels  

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