By Bruce Bahmani
December 4, 1997
not often that you stumble upon a book that has so many good elements,
and it's even rarer that any of those involve Iran in any positive way.
Simply put, if you are an Iranian and have had the slightest desire to read one contemporary novel, this should be the one.
The story follows the travels of a young child in medieval England from boyhood to manhood. Aafter becoming an orphan, he is taken under apprenticeship by what was then called a barber-surgeon. Half snake-oil salesman and entertainer, half rudimentary doctor, they travel from town to village selling the "Universal Physick" or cheap liquor mixed with herbs and special plants as a cure for everything.
It is here I found the book's sweetest part. Aas they traveled they would camp along the way and the boy's master would cook some of the most delicious foods. The way Gordon described them made my mouth water and I wished I was there.
The boy is fascinated by and naturally gifted in helping people become well and decides he must become a doctor.
It is here where we learn that at the time the best school in the world for medicine is in Iran at the famous Ibn Sina school in Isfahan. However, relations between Christians and Moslems is not at their best and there is a strict rule against allowing Christians in the school. Jews however, are permitted upon exception and much reference. He decides to pass himself off as a Jew and goes so far as to learn Farsi in order to gain entrance.
I will not go further, however this is where I was most fascinated by the book. The author basically explains the principles behind each religion in such detail and understanding that you come away very well informed.
The details of Iran at the time, the politics, the realities of a Shahanshah, the culture, food, harems, sports, and arts are all so beautifully described you wish you were back home. The tale is told from a perspective so different and so fresh, it gives you a whole new sense of the world then.
So, in conclusion;
|Bruce Bahmani lives, reads and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area.||
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