The new novel by Sohrab Homi Fracis describes the adventure of a foreign student named Viraf during the 80s in the United States. Viraf came from India, and more precisely from the Parsi community, descendants of the Persian Zoroastrians community who left Iran after the Arab-Muslim conquest more than 1,000 years ago. To complicate the story, Viraf came to study in the USA during the Iranian hostage crisis.
Funny, dark, true and poignant, Fracis found a way to talk about multiculturalism, immigrants, racism and globalization of the societies without being boring. Even if the story is in the 80s readers will eventually see that almost nothing has changed, except the cars!
As a Frenchman who is married with an Iranian wife who is doing her Ph.D. in a student city in the middle of Oklahoma, I have found living abroad is not always easy. Cultural differences is a big issue, especially in the long term, becoming homesick is something that almost every migrant has experimented, should I go home?
When French today are well accepted in the American society (it has not always been the case, remember when the U.S. decided to invade Iraq in 2003?), it is not always the same for Iranians, or I should say for I-ranians. The nuclear crisis came through here.
But still books such as Go Home gives hope that humanity is on the right way, the way of inclusivity and mutual respect. The fact is the publication of Go Home might not have been possible 30 years ago is proof of how much mentally has changed. But still, people in the USA, Europe and other parts of the world are angry enough to elect a person such as Donald Trump, the one who say “Go home” to the Muslims living in the USA.
Further, it might not be perceptible to the readers, but the book approached another subject concerning the generational conflict between the new and old generations. While Viraf’s father expects him to take over the family business in construction, Viraf prefers to follow his own path. The same is the issue for Viraf’s sister who prefers to marry the man she loves instead of having a forced marriage by their parents.
Finally, one of the moralities of the book will be, it doesn’t matter where you come from, do your dream, follow your path, enjoy sharing time with people, because there will be always someone who will try to demean you.
I recommend Go Home, it is an excellent book on this time of incertitude, easy to read, an American novel with a touch of India. Perfect Christmas gift for readers.
Winner of several literature awards, Fracis is the first Asian author to win the prestigious price of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2001 and since then his popularity has continuously increased.