In her beautifully written book A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, Dina Nayeri weaves a rich story of growing up in Iran, juxtaposing what is beautiful and what is dark about family, love, and culture.
The thing I love best about this book is the way that the setting becomes part of the story. As a reader, I love to be transported to another place, and everything about this novel–from place descriptions to surprising phrases to word choice–evokes the atmosphere of the Caspian region of Iran.
Another wonderful feature of the book is how the author uses storytelling to add nuance and explanation as the story unfolds, and as the characters become more aware of their own stories. The story-within-a-story technique is especially well-done in this book, and also gives the reader the feeling of being inside another culture.
Although the setting may be unfamiliar to you, unless you’ve read a lot about Iran, the themes of the story will resonate with readers from any culture. Finding an identity, coping with loss, grappling with life-altering decisions, and growing up are common themes, but seem new in this different context.
Because it’s gorgeously written, full of characters with depth, and will open up a new understanding of an often misunderstood country, I highly recommend A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Also, the author is my best friend from college and I did peer edit the book for her while it was in process, for which she sent me an amazing assortment of French and Dutch cheeses. However, the opinions in this post are my own, and even though I’m inordinately fond of cheese, I would have written a similarly positive review without the gift.