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About The Book

An irreverent and deeply-felt debut novel about a family confronting a past that is both keeping them together and preventing them from breaking free.

Meet the Valiat family. In Iran, they were somebodies. In America, they’re nobodies.

First there is Elizabeth, the regal matriarch with the famously large nose who stayed in Tehran during the revolution. She lives in a shabby apartment, paranoid and alone. Except when she is visited by Niaz, her Islamic-law-breaking granddaughter who takes her debauchery with a side of purpose, and yet somehow manages to survive. Elizabeth’s daughters left for America in 1979: Shirin, a charismatic yet outrageous event planner in Houston who considers herself the family’s future, and Seema, a dreamy idealist-turned-housewife languishing in the chaparral-filled hills of Los Angeles. And then there’s the other granddaughter Bita, the self-righteous but lost law student spending her days in New York City eating pancakes and quietly giving away her belongings.

When an annual vacation in Aspen goes wildly awry and Shirin ends up being bailed out of jail by Bita, the family’s brittle status quo is cracked open. Shirin embarks upon a grand but half-baked quest to restore the family name. But what does that even mean in a country where the Valiats never mattered? Will they ever realize that life is more than just an old story?

These are five women who are pulled apart and brought together by revolution. Here is their past, present, and future. By turns satirical and philosophical, traveling from the 1940s Iran into a splintered 2000s, The Persians is a mordantly funny, heartbreakingly sad, and profoundly searching portrait of a family in crisis at the turn of the century, an American family saga reinvented.

About The Author

Photo by Amaal Said

Sanam Mahloudji was born in Tehran and left during the Islamic Revolution. She is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize and was nominated for a PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Idaho Review, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Mahloudji was raised in Los Angeles and now lives in London with her husband and two children. The Persians is her debut novel.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (March 4, 2025)
  • Runtime: 12 hours
  • ISBN13: 9781797188522

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