A newly sober, orphaned son of Iranian immigrants, guided by the voices of artists, poets, and kings, embarks on a search that leads him to a terminally ill painter living out her final days in the Brooklyn Museum.
A deliberately provocative title that suits its protagonist, an Iranian-American poet who is painfully conflicted, heartbreakingly vulnerable, and frequently impossible ... Stuffed with ideas, gorgeous images, and a surprising amount of humor ... The serious fiction lover’s favorite kind of book, offering plenty to think about and discuss, all of it couched in brilliantly rendered prose that’s a pleasure to read. Let’s hope that Kaveh Akbar’s impressive debut is the first of many novels to come.
Incandescent ... Akbar has created an indelible protagonist, haunted, searching, utterly magnetic. But it speaks to Akbar’s storytelling gifts that Martyr! is both a riveting character study and piercing family saga.
Deep-feeling, beautifully bruised ... A darkly comic and heartrendingly earnest work. Even as it sometimes imperfectly weaves together its grand sentiments — addiction and recovery, grief and hope, love, belonging and meaning — it’s hard to be bothered by the bumps in the road when one can sit with the playful, wistful emotional resonance of Akbar’s prose ... A poet's novel.