Sunday, December 28, 2014
A Stoning Before Breakfast, by Azardokht Bahrami
If I were picking the best story titles of 2014, a big chunk would come of this book. "Fear is the Best Keeper of Secrets." "A Woman's Geography is Sacred." "The Shelf Life of Revenge." "The Whitest Set of Teeth in Tehran."
And today's entry.
The narrator is a prostitute. Her friend Elika is being stoned to death for adultery - although the actual reasons are more complicated than that. While this story makes no reference to the obvious Christian analog - "let he who is without sin..." - Elika's customers are in the crowd, very reluctant to participate.
This is not a standard crime story, more a slice-of-death piece, but powerfully written.
One of the women asks out loud why they haven't covered her face. she insists that this is the law. It's as if she's some kind of Minister of Stoning.
Kati insisted there was not a man on earth who would stay faithful for long. Except maybe the prophet Adam, and that was only because in his particular sad case there wasn't a second option.
This boy's a natural. They should bring him to every stoning within driving distance.
Another fine story in the collection is "Not Every Bullet is Meant for a King," (another great title) by Hossein Arkenar, a sort of textual Pulp Fiction about people who get involved in a bank robbery.