Inderjit Sanghera’s Reviews > The Street of Butterflies



The Street of Butterflies

Mehri Yalfani


Inderjit Sanghera‘s review

Jun 21, 2020


really liked it


This collection of short stories is both simultaneously light and heavy; Yalfani’s prose style is light, almost ethereal, as she explores the lives of various Iranian characters both in Iran and aboard, however the themes which emerge, whether it be the mute loneliness of Soleiman in ‘Soleiman’s Silence’ or the romantic bitterness of ‘A Suitable Choice’, speak to a sense of lassitude and disappointment which has taken over the characters lives.  Sometimes this disappointment can be the result of cronyism, as in ‘American Chocolate’, where a schoolgirl’s dreams of a place at university in Beirut are dashed when it is offered to a girl from a richer family or sometimes this disappointment can be rooted in a sense of loss, as with the writer in ‘Heart’s Language’, who in forgoing her native Farsi when writing in English loses the soul of her writing. Yet the common them running through all of these stories if one of loss of identity, as the character often feel rootless and helpless against the change which is engulfing their lives.

That is not to say that Yalfani’s stories are somehow gloomy or cynical; for example,  the beautiful ending of ‘The Street of Butterflies’, in which a woman requests her house, which is surrounded by nondescript tower blocks, is converted into a nursery after her death, is touching without being sentimental and there is a lot of humour interspersed in the stories. Rather, Yalfani explores her stories from characters who didn’t fit in, who break against the tradition and who are trying to adapt to a world which often doesn’t understand them.

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