Cover image for Landscapes of a distant mother
Landscapes of a distant mother
Said, 1947-
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Uniform Title:
Landschaften einer fernen Mutter. English
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
112 pages ; 21 cm
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PT2679.A3355 L3613 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Your smile.
There wasn't one.
You never smiled.

Born in Tehran but living in Germany, the eminent writer SAID has suffered two forms of exile. Forced to leave Iran for political reasons, he was also separated from his mother shortly after his birth when his parents divorced. At the age of forty-three, however, SAID received word that his mother was traveling abroad and wanted to see him. Landscapes of a Distant Mother is the account of their wrenching reunion. A memoir of longing and loss, the book offers a haunting portrait of a son's broken relationship with his mother and the Islamic dictatorship that shadows both their lives.

Landscapes of a Distant Mother gives English-speaking readers an introduction to one of Europe's most important immigrant writers. Unsentimental and spare, the book chronicles the discomfiting sensation of viewing one's mother as a stranger and all the psychological implications of their mutual disappointment. SAID's distance from his mother--whom he describes almost clinically, with her "particular way of speaking, the style laced with religious formulas, inclined to emotionalism, self-pity and expletives"--becomes a measure of the alienation he feels from everything around him. His book gives voice to the full meaning of modern exile--its political force, profound sadness, and perpetual yearning.

Author Notes

SAID , who publishes only under his first name for security reasons, was born in Tehran in 1947 and has lived in Munich since 1965. He is the author of several books, only one of which, Be to Me the Night: Love Poems , has been translated into English. The recipient of numerous awards, including the Premio Letterario Internazionale "Jean Monnet" and the German PEN Center's Hermann-Kesten Medal, he served as president of the German PEN Center and director of the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

The Iranian-born SAID has been exiled in Germany for over 35 years and writes in German. He uses only his last name for what he claims are security reasons. Yet he packs volumes into this brief, poetic memoir. How does one prepare to meet a mother seen only once since birth? The book follows his preparations for the meeting, the meeting itself, and then the aftereffects, which lasted ten years before he could write about it. The portrait he presents is of a man trying hard not to be swallowed up by his mother's love and of a strict, self-centered woman who is faithful to a regime he long ago left behind. Readers quickly realize that this woman has reappeared merely to exonerate herself from blame. Once that is accomplished, her son fades back into nonexistence. "We did not become lovers," he confesses, startling readers with his choice of words. This book fascinates with its detailed portrait of a foreign culture and forges an emotional connection with anyone who's ever been a son, daughter, or mother. Recommended for all public libraries.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.