...[a] luminous first novel ... Familiar historical events are lifted out of known historical time and the reader, briefly wrong-footed, pays closer attention. Reza’s main characters, too, though vivid and substantial, seem timeless ... Like a sympathetic anthropologist, she delineates the emotions and responses of her characters as though inviting us to observe rather than empathize...Yet the compressed force of Reza’s language not only commands our attention but also creates a subtle, brooding suspense that intensifies as her narrative proceeds inexorably toward revolution ... For all the tumult that it portrays, however, The Gardens of Consolation is a serene epic that proceeds at a stately pace. In this translation from the French, (Reza was born in Tehran in 1965 but has lived in France since the age of seventeen), even the most brutal act is described with almost magisterial composure ... So rooted is Parisa Reza’s writing in the fertile soil of Iran that The Gardens of Consolation seems to contain an entire nation.
...[a] stunning debut ... the young love between Sardar and Talla is both tender, believable, and unbreakable, as well as being the cornerstone of the novel ... The novel pulls you in like a waking dream. The writing is lush and evocative. The sweeping upheaval of politics comes at a blinding rush ... Still, occasionally, the novel reads like a history lesson and can feel pedantic ... a rich, intimate story of people.
...[an] exquisite, deceptively quiet novel ... Amid the cacophony of voices competing for dominance (and oil) in their country, Talla’s politically engaged son, Bahram — handsome, educated, a star athlete — navigates dangerous paths of activism and resistance 'with a strange mix of narcissism and patriotism.' Slowly, the narrative evolves from an intimate chronicle of Talla and Sardar’s provincial lives into a sweeping tour through early-20th-century Iran.