It’s 1979, and the Islamic Revolution is just around the corner, as is a massive solar eclipse. In this epic novel set in the small Iranian city of Naishapur, a retired judge and his wife, Bibi, grow apples, plums, peaches, and sour cherries, as well as manage several generations of family members. The days here are marked by long, elaborate lunches on the terrace and arguments about the corrupt monarchy in Iran and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. And yet life in the orchard continues. An uncle develops into a powerful cleric. A young nephew goes to university, hoping to lead the fight for a new Iran and marry his childhood sweetheart. Another nephew surrenders to opium, while his widowed father dreams of a life in the West. Told through a host of vivid, unforgettable characters that range from servants to elderly friends of the family, To Keep the Sun Alive (Catapult, 2019) is the kind of rich, compelling story that not only informs the past, but raises questions about political and religious extremism today.
Rabeah Ghaffari was born in Iran and lives in New York City. She is a filmmaker and writer whose work has appeared in the Tribeca Film Festival. Her collaborative fiction with artist Shirin Neshat was featured in “Reflections on Islamic Art”(Bloomsbury/Qatar) and her documentary, “The Troupe,” featured Tony Kushner and received funding from the Ford Foundation and Lincoln Center. Her most recent feature-length screenplay, The Inheritors, was commissioned by producer and costume designer Patricia Field. Rabaeh is also a trained actor who spent her twenties doing theater and film in NYC. When not writing, she loves watching films and cooking. To Keep the Sun Alive is her first novel.