Rooftops of Tehran
Since the early years of 18th century, novels have found their ways to the public awareness on how such literary works could bring impacts to the community. One of the most popular sub genres of novel is “Social Novel” which has seen been used as a popular device of authors to publish their works and propagate its messages. However, the earliest documented European novel was published way further back in the 17th century or even much earlier, with pioneering novel, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. (“Novel”, n.d.) It is also one of the earliest writings in the form of a very lengthy piece of work which is known as novel (derived from Spanish noun, Novella which means new story). (“Novel”, n.d.) Since late 20th century, non-American writers have found their ways of getting their messages through – literary works. This is no exception to Mahbod Seraji, Iranian born, American based writer who wrote his debut novel, which also served as a social novel, Rooftops of Tehran, first published and printed in May 2009 that served as both commentary and criticism to both Iranian and world communities. This essay will try to attempt to provide an insight of what are the main messages behind Mr. Seraji’s Rooftops of Tehran which will be divided into five main points which are, prevalent corruptions among religious scholars and royals, the importance of family and social values, the importance of knowledge, the price of freedom and the concept of reality versus perception. One has to take note that these messages are not solely targeted for one community or area or those with particular interest, but actually served as an insight for the global community whom can view these points from different perspectives and reflect upon the real importance message behind it. Throughout recorded history, the clashes of interests between people and religion and royalty and public especially the corrupted ones have always been problematic social problems that seem to be unending battles with no near future viable solutions. A popular topic in any social novels, Mr. Seraji utilized these battles to be used as one of the main themes in his novel. First is the issue of people against the people of the religion. In Rooftops of Tehran however, the author is not a directing the criticism on religion, but rather he is addressing the issue of corruption in the people who proclaimed to live and breath religion themselves. The people in this story though claimed to be religious, little information are shed on their religious practices other than self-proclaimed to be pious. Many misused their power, thus causing many people who are
oppressed to loathe them. One of the main characters, “Doctor (Ramin Sobhi)” is shown on how much he despised people who said that there are mullahs (religious scholars) but behave in no way of acting like one. He said:
“He’s [mullah] trying to pick up my grandma. If he even thinks about her, I’ll rip the turban from his ugly and strangle him with it.” (Seraji, 2009, p. 28)
Here, Mr. Seraji in no way of directly criticizing religion, or in this case, Islam, but he only focuses the negativity towards these people who are merely used religion as their covers. On a global context, the same issue can be traced in the real world, dating back during the Middle Ages, where Christian priests, specifically, the Roman Catholics who start selling Indulgences as a way for a believer to confess their sins by simply buying these letters issued by the churches. (“Indulgences”, n.d.) In comparison with other social novel, this issue was even addressed earlier by a French writer, Gustave Flaubert in one of his novels, Madame Bovary, published 150 years earlier than Mr. Seraji’s work. Though separated by fifteen decades, the issue discussed is fundamentally the same, with only exception in their cosmetic properties – characters and settings. In Madame Bovary, Mr. Flaubert addressed the issue of how religion is used as...
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