Historical fiction

Take What You Can Carry by Gian Sardar

55513876. sy475

This is another first for me. I have only a smattering of knowledge of the Kurds and their complicated lives. Reading this, however, helped me for a better picture of very intricate and long-standing issues.
The story is based in 1979 and is partly in the US, with the other more significant part based in Iraq’s Kurdish region. The author’s note towards the end, giving us more details of her own family history in the area, was fascinating (while emotionally potent).
The narrative heavily relies on emotions and the ties to people; there is a dream-like quality connecting the various people, leading and supporting the prominent storyline. Each branch of the story carries a heavy load of grief and frustration while simultaneously not being down on life itself. This is probably the best way I could describe my understanding of the way the story unravelled.
We have a young couple; one is a photographer who is yet to make a mark at her workplace (the way she wants to), and the other is a now US citizen whose family still lives in Iraq. They travel back for a wedding, and we are slowly let into the complexities that this entails. We have family and those who amount to family, all bonding together to survive. The portrayal carries the authentic feel and weight of the situation (which makes sense given the previously mentioned author’s note). I felt it a little slow initially; the second half was unputdownable once the story actually took off. I would recommend not giving up if anyone finds the first half not to their taste, as the second half more than makes up for it.
It is not a happily-ever-after in the traditional sense of the word, but there are slivers of light in this tunnel.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s