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Goodreads doesn t have an option that I can find Date I abandoned this book Since this book was so popular in Iran, I wanted to understand what made it so popular I just couldn t finish it I skimmed to the end It certainly reaffirms the notion that every family has its share of tiresome nuts.There are lots of people hiding in bushes eavesdropping one wonders how there could be so many strategically placed bushes jokes about farts, jokes about farts jokes about sexual activity, and Lorena Bobbitt jokes There are probably puns too, but since I was reading a translation I wouldn t know The story centers around Dear Uncle Napoleon , an aging self appointed patriarch who endlessly relives his military exploits, which have been so embroidered over the years, that no one, least of all Dear Uncle , can tell what is real and what is fabricated At one of his dramatic re tellings to the assembled family, someone farts Dear Uncle decides it s the narrator s father, takes offense and the war is on The family s honor must be upheld He diverts the water from going to their house, he gets the local mullah to say in his sermon that the pharmacy they own uses alcohol to make their pharmaceuticals, etc etc The father has his own methods of revenge When the family tries to put together a truce, it backfires The plot is complicated by the fact that the narrator a boy of 13 has fallen head over heels for Dear Uncle s daughter There are numerous cartoonishly drawn stock characters and much of the humor lies in in their exaggerated depiction the fat dim witted niece, the shrewish wife, the pompous uncle, the lecherous uncle, the hot head, the hen pecked husband It was just too much of the same type of joke for that long a book for me The end surprised me however it had a completely different, rather melancholy tone. Did I enjoy this well, why should I lie To the grave it sahahfour fingers.Lovely story and wonderfully told Heartbreaking in places, nerve jangling in others and often than not hilarious As funny as any adventure Bertie Wooster or Harry Flashman ever had, this novel achieved that rare feat of making me laugh out loud while reading.The unnamed narrator, who is little than a cypher but garners respect for using ever ingenious excuses to be at the heart of the action may well be involved in every scene but he is only one of a whole range of characters who are introduced and made effortlessly interesting As in Wodehouse s work endless aunts and nutcase neighbours populate this Tehran Blandings, creating drama out of inconsequentials and leaving it to the Farsi equivalent of Jeeves the super smooth and quick witted Asadollah to save the day again and again Attention Silence You what are you doing without this book Buy this book immediately Silence Stop Where are you going Get to your nearest bookstore now Who told you to move Silence. If you don t fancy reading my long review, read Judy s which sums up what I liked about it very well Still with me Ok, I ll convey my main impressions in the first two paragraphs, after that, you have another opportunity to leaveWhen I read that this book had been made into a TV series, I should have anticipated what it would be like it is a hologram Every part of it contains the image of the whole the drama runs in place, the characters are inalterable and apart from the nameless narrator and his beloved cousin, who have no personalities at all, are a broadly unsympathetic bunch , and the elements of the comedy are always the same Fortunately, these are all entirely adequate to the task of keeping me entertained for five hundred pages.To be honest, I m quite surprised I enjoyed it so much as I don t think I would have read this if I had been told it was a farce relying for most of its laughs on innuendo and bodily functions, especially of the penis Clearly, Pezeshkzad has the genius of imbuing his comedy with sparkling life The characteristic exaggerations and romance of Iranian speech, re exaggerated by the author, are a treat non Iranians can enjoy as the countless shockingly disingenuous dramatic oaths on the souls and deaths of loved ones and holy figures sometimes becomes a joke in itself.Had enough OK, off you go, thanks for reading so far Attempted Feminist Reading of Daei Jan Napoleon There is one female character who speaks at any length Aziz al Saltaneh, whose terrifying volatility is early on highlighted by her attempt to cut off her cheating husband s penis In addition, Farrokh Laqa, an unpleasant busybody permanently dressing in black and going to funerals, has a few lines, and the mother of cadet officer Ghiasabadi, whose unattractive appearance is her main attribute, speaks a little For comparison, there are five main male characters who speak about as much as or than Aziz al Saltaneh, and many minor ones who speak much than any other womanThree women exist to be sexually attractive and potentially available to seduce or be seduced they are mostly discussed in their absence Layli, the narrator s beloved, is spared ever being physically described, but she barely speaks The narrator s mother and young sister, and the wives of uncle colonel and Daie Jan himself barely exist I don t think there is a single scene in which two women speak to each other.Arguably the most complete, sympathetic female character is Qamar, the teenage daughter of Aziz al Saltaneh, described in near enough author voice as simple I do not know what this is translated from and by unsympathetic characters as not all there not right in the head and crazy The latter is particularly inaccurate as Qamar seems to be very sane honest, consistent and cheerful except when she is threatened with an abortion against her will This is only one of the ways in which she is abused She is, apparently, raped by a family member, and coerced under the threat of a dangerous abortion into marrying an older man Uncle Asadollah, perhaps the most sympathetic character overall and thus closely identified with the author, obviously feels for her and treats her kindly She is described as attractively chubby as are other attractive women I suppose it s at least refreshing not to have a less unhealthy standard of sexual suitability and her body is subjected to various narrative commodifications, but she does emerge as a person with a will I like her a lot, and I wish we heard from her.The strategy of having the story told from the perspective of a lovesick teenager, even if his endless eavesdropping is an utterly transparent device, allows a clear eyed and innocent though certainly not unbiased perspective, a thin veil for straight author voice Further distancing through other characters allows Pezeshkzad to poke fun at the mainly classism racism and patriarchal attitudes of others However, to some extent these are conferred in by the author Extreme male jealousy and references to wife murder are satirised, and I sense a strong sense of injustice at the cruel prohibition against men displaying emotion a crying boy being subjected to this one s a girl, get the barber and cut his willy off could hardly be appalling On the other hand, in addition to the problems with female characters, the text raises scant objection to the abuse of Qamar Uncle Asadollah s view that sex is the best thing in life and in particular that sex with a man solves all a woman s problems is distanced from the author by the narrator s firmly chaste and chivalrous attitude to his love object I m in love with her Uncle Asadollah dirty thoughts like that have never entered my head.To an extent, racism against Indian people is sent up Daei Jan is so racist he can hardly bear to speak to an Indian, while Uncle Asadollah, perhaps the most sympathetic character overall and thus closely identified with the author, shows no sign of being so, and enthusiastically befriends one whose wife takes his fancy However, Asadollah describes an Arab in a very unpleasant stereotypical way The narrator s father is a victim of Daei Jan and his circle s extreme classism, and his revenge involves constantly inviting people of objectionable class status into Daie Jan s house and presence whenever he can Asadollah directly criticises Daie Jan s self importance as both unreasonable and disingenuous However, he himself is of noble origins and his virtue consists in wearing this status lightly and gracefully and behaving in the Iranian tradition of hospitality, conviviality, sympathy and helpfulness to all Stereotypes of both upper and lower class people are embodied and mined for comedy.The TV SeriesI have a very little Farsi, but having read the book I found I could watch the series without subtitles, follow the action and enjoy it, and get out of my reading Indeed, I watched two hours of it while I was doing the ironing This is surely testament to really brilliant acting and adaptation, and the inevitable humanisation of characters who have only a minimal embodiment in the novel By watching, you can better appreciate Mash Qasem s funny habits of speech and the imposing presence of Daei Jan Watching gives a sense of place that the novel spends little time creating The women are dressed in a relaxed style, in colourful dresses, and for most veils are only worn for religious observance.The TranslationI m not really qualified to comment as I can barely read Farsi However, Dick Davis translation is so natural and light footed that I would have completely forgotten the book was not written in English if I had not occasionally mentally un translated words and phrases to feel them in Farsi, which was an additional pleasure Comedy must be very difficult to render in another language, but there is never a hint of strain Davis approach to the art of translation is discussed a little in this article in relation to classic poetry I know it is very obnoxious of me to untranslate the title of the novel and the name of its main character, but Daei Jan dear maternal uncle sounds so much natural than Dear Uncle, which makes me feel I m writing a letter. I LOVED this book from page 1 to page 503 My interest in the story never lagged despite its length My Uncle Napoleon spins the story of a teenage boy narrator who falls in love with his first cousin, Layli, the daughter of Dear Uncle Napoleon the head of the family The problem is that Layli is promised in marriage to her older cousin, Puri What unfolds as the young man seeks to gain Layli s hand in marriage is utterly hilarious because of the wonderful characters.Although referred to as Dear Uncle , Napoleon is anything but dear Crafty, lusty Uncle Asadollah Mirza advises our narrator to go to San Francisco have sex with Layli His crackpot schemes to avoid family troubles, manipulate Dear Uncle will have the reader laughing Uncle Napoleon s man servant, Mash Qasem, entertains with his quirk of answering questions with Well, why should I lie To the grave it s ahah and his added embellishments to Uncle Napoleon s war stories If there s not enough humor between these two characters, there s always crazy Qamar, the lying, cheating Dustali Khan, the narrator s sabotaging father, a murderous butcher with a cheating wife and a vengeful, knife wielding Aunt.Overall, the most entertaining book I have read in ages Highly recommend I have never laughed so much even with The Idiot I don t know if that s enough to recommend a book But it is a classic in Iran a glorious story about the foibles of a very complicated family I relish literature like this, especially during times like this when entire countries are vilified by our government I seek to understand and literature is one of the things I greatly depend upon to round out the human, celebratory elements of a people, a civilization unknown to me. I added My Uncle Napoleon to my wishlist after seeing it mentioned in Reading Lolita in Tehran as one of the author s favorite Iranian novels The book takes place in Tehran during World War II, during the adolescence of the unnamed male narrator, who has just at the onset of the story realized that he is madly in love with his cousin Layli Professing this love publically would be scandalous not because the two are cousins A marriage between cousins is arranged in heaven, the characters quote but because Layli is promised to another, older cousin, and because the narrator s father and Layli s father are entrenched in a bitter rivalry from across the garden yard their houses share The novel is a comedic soap opera, with the family members all out to get each other and planning elaborate actions and reactions behind each other s backs Layli s father, the eldest and head member of the extended family, admires Napoleon to the point of beginning to equate himself with the man, becoming increasingly delusional about there being English spies everywhere ready to pay him back for his imagined victories over the British The narrator s father wants to bring Dear Uncle Napoleon down off his high horse, but the narrator and a favorite uncle team up to try to undo everything the father does in order to maintain enough peace between the families that the narrator can go on seeing Layli Everyone is always making sex jokes, using elaborate and ridiculous euphemisms since they consider it impolite to talk about the sex act or other bodily functions directly.The book is sweet and funny and enjoyable excellent train reading fare, and I d get home and keep on reading it long after the commute was over It s nothing too substantial and doesn t really require a reading, but I had a good time with it Apparently it was made into a TV show in the 1970s that was so popular in Iran that it s something of a cultural reference point for anyone living there at that time I was hoping it would be available in English but it seems there s no such luck It s a very visual sort of book that I imagine would translate to the screen exceptionally well. You will find him in most families.The eccentric uncle, the uncle who have seen most of the world and lived to tell, have conquered and slain dragons, climbed the highest peaks and in his youth turned down an offer to father Marilyn Monroe s yet unborn children.However, in most families he does not posses the ultimate power of a patriarch.This family is a bit different and even the story goes back to the time between WWI and WWII when family patterns and traditions played a prominent role the archetypes are still very recognizable anywhere in the world But, let me not give the plot away We are witnessing a family feud from it s very beginning and our young protagonist, who on a Friday the 13th discovers he is in love with his cousin is caught in the middle.So many things happens in a relatively short timespan but what we believe is a mischievous sound of a small cannon, which may have human origin from within the testines, that is will play a crucial part Writing a loving satirical novel of this kind require a sharp eye for detail, just how much can you enlarge a figure and still have the audience on your side and how many social institutions and taboos can you touch upon and still not offend your audience.Thus this is much of an entertaining look back than a social satire.The events would of course never have taken place in your own house and family, but I have heard something like that happened to The Amirs two roads down I thoroughly enjoyed the trip back to Teheran and I already miss my extended Iranian family Looking back on a trip to San Francisco earlier in my life it will never be the same. After about forty years, I had the chance of rereading this favorite book of mine, this time in English translation The translation is excellent, and the audiobook performance is great too, although too slow for me I put the speed on 1.5 and then it was ok I laughed just as hard, but there were elements in the novel that naturally had gone over my head when I first read it stealthily at the age of ten or eleven, and I am very glad that I read it again as an adult Reading My Uncle Napoleon at this stage of my life has another advantage as well I have read many books with which I can compare this one, and I must say Pezeshkzad s masterpiece reminds me very strongly of Catch 22.In short, apart from the undeniable fact that the likable characters are all male, I find everything about this book admirable. Once upon a time I was like you, toovery sensitivevery melancholybut time changed mea person s body is formed in the workshop of his mother s body, but a person s soul in the workshop of the world Our unnamed narrator is a teenage boy who finds himself pulled in all directions by his own burgeoning feelings of love, the squabbles of his extended family, and the generally confusing advice he gets from everyone he knows He knows one thing for sure, that he loves his cousin Layli, and if he can t have her for his own, he will just have to kill himself The drama of young love, so easy to believe that it is all consuming His main obstacle turns out to be his own father, not for the traditional reason that his father doesn t feel the girl is a good match or the family is not good enough, but because his father has embroiled himself in a personal vendetta to take Layli s father down a peg or two Revenge, as they say, is best served cold, but our narrator s father is too clever, too ambitious, too impulsive to let the slights against his character remain unchallenged The Dear Uncle Napoleon is the patriarch of the family None of his brothers and sisters have moved very far away in fact, they all live around the same garden and courtyard Anything that happens to any of them is quickly known by all They are all obsessed with one another s business.Dear Uncle Napoleon fought in the war, and his stories and his memories about his exploits have grown from minnows to whales It isn t completely his fault his manservant, Mash Qasem, over the years has inserted himself into his master s memories of the war and continues to add his own fabrications to the odes of war Dear Uncle Napoleon has always been an admirer of Napoleon Fortunately, his delusions about himself have not expanded to the point that he believes that he actually is Napoleon, although as the plot unfolds it becomes touch and go as to whether his mind will remain tethered by slender strands to the truth or whether he will completely be taken over by his own delusions Not helping the situation is that the British have invaded Iran the book is set during WWII , and he is convinced that they will arrest and execute him for his daring feats against them in the past war The narrator s father has a fine time playing on those fears There is another cousin, Puri, a horse faced young man scared of guns and women in equal measure, whom Dear Uncle has promised will be married to the beautiful Layli OH NO Uncle Asadollah Mirza, who happens to be my favorite character in the book, is a philandering admirer of widows and wives He is one of many who have known the charms of Tahereh I became aware of a twinkle in Asadollah Mirza s eye When I looked in the direction he was looking I saw in the dimly lit porchway the beautiful glittering eyes of Tahereh She is not only beautiful but frequently available A man can easily find himself in her arms despite the fact that her husband, Shir Ali the Butcher, has killed two men by cleaving them in two and beat up several others who dared to try and woo his wife Shir Ali, the local butcher, was a horrifying man He was well over six feet tall his whole body, from head to toe, was covered in tattoos, and there were numerous knife scars visible on his head His character and temperament fitted his terrifying body exactly Asadollah Mirza is a lover not a fighter Lust is a sacred feeling for him and must not be ignored Luckily for him, Shir Ali has found religion and has set aside his cleaver for a leg of mutton as his weapon of vengeance Asadollah wouldn t survive his neck cleaved in two, but he might survive a broken skull.In his mind, as well as the minds of many other men, the allure of Tahereh is worth the risk.So our Narrator, without other resources for advice, turns to Asadollah who tells him the same thing over and over that he must take Layli to San Francisco Somewhere along the line the family has seen the movie San Francisco 1936 , starring Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald The starlet has become the symbol in their minds, representing sexual allurement, and taking someone to San Francisco is a euphemism for matching the stem with the flower petals I guess describing a euphemism with another euphemism isn t exactly a definition, but if you haven t figured out what I m referring to you might identify perfectly fine with our naive Narrator By making love to Layli, our hapless Narrator will force the hand of the Dear Uncle, and he will have to let them marry or face potentially embarrassing the family with a pregnancy out of wedlock The plot, of course, must take a different turn The police are frequently called to the family compound for anything from potential murder to a missing watch The police add even humor to a humorous novel Their interrogation methods are basically to keep their suspects from thinking too much Your answer Quick, now, immediately, at the double This leads to some hilarious answers that lead to and trouble for the family Mash Qasem begins every statement with Why should I lie which makes everyone distrust what he is about to say even He isn t alone all the characters seem quite comfortable with swearing on everything holy that they are not lying when they are most assuredly telling incredible whoppers Everyone is trying to manipulate everyone else Problems are exasperated by and meddling Those too clever prove too stupid Those too stupid prove to be too clever All the characters seem to have too much time on their hands The plot is like trying to watch three events simultaneously at a circus It is truly an amazing book and considered by many to be the masterpiece of Persian literature I haven t read enough literature from Iran to make that judgment, but I will certainly agree that it is a wonderful book full of contradictions as to how I perceived Iran There is rampant adultery, the consuming of vast quantities of alcohol, and the breaking of many Islamic commandments All of which contribute to several scenes that made me laugh out loud I think Iraj Pezeshkzad was poking fun at the conservative veneer that exists over the entire nation Certainly, it is exaggerated for comedic effect The book was banned at one time in Iran Pezeshkzad lives in France due to the fact that he was too politically active in the 1970s to live comfortably in the country of his birth The book was made into a very popular TV series There are few people in Iran who haven t met Mash Qasem, Asadollah Mirza, or Dear Uncle Napoleon, either through their TV sets or coming to life in their minds through the printed pages of possibly a black market copy of the book Iranians are discouraged to read the book, but I will say I for one encourage not only Iranians, but people of all countries to read this marvelous addition to literature These characters will imprint themselves on you, and for most everyone they will recognize someone in their own family who could have been a member of this cast I want to thank my friend E who recommended this book to me E, may you someday experience the same freedoms in your country that I do in mine If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at `Free Epub ⇻ Da'i-i jan Napuli'un ☂ ,