A GUIDE TO DEATH BY MEDICINAL HERBS
Literary & General
Danish, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish
Rights sold: Italian
Atieh Attarzadeh was born in 1984 in Tehran. She was raised in a family of physicians, but studied documentary film and earned a master's degree in film from Tehran University. She primarily became known as a poet and painter, and her poetry collection won the prestigious “Shamlou Award” in 2016, and was selected for the "Reporters" poetry award. Her first novel, A GUIDE TO DEATH BY MEDICINAL HERBS, was published in 2017 and reprinted seven times in the course of eighteen months.
This is the story of a blind girl who has no connection to time nor to people, other than to her mother nor to places, other than the old house where they live.
In the house basement they prepare, mix, and package different Iranian traditional herbs, that they sell to Seyyed, an old herbalist, the only person who visits their house.
The young girl lost her sight seventeen years before, during a mysterious event that led to the separation of her parents. In all these years, she has lived alone with her senses of smell and touch, feeling different plants and becoming familiar with their sometimes deadly powers.
Her world has other inhabitants, too: the greatest novels of all times; Avicenna, the renowned philosopher and physician of the Middle Ages, and, of course, her mother with her unusual beliefs, strange isolation, and a mysterious life story.
The young girl searches the corners of this dark, quiet world to find missing pieces of her life, the shocking and terrifying pieces of a world where love and violence blend together.
Everything is as usual until, one day, an unexpected event draws the girl and her mother outside the house, where she, for the first time, meets a young man, and this is the beginning of a storm that will lead to startling events...
A GUIDE TO DEATH BY MEDICINAL HERBS is a bold, modern novel. It belongs to the Iranian wave of experimental literature of recent years and has attracted a wide audience and favourable reviews. The author weaves together Iranian traditional medicine and the unusual, unfamiliar life of a blind girl. All this takes place in the historical and social context of contemporary Iran. The result is a contemporary novel with a fantasy appeal; an attractive tale and an introduction to the ancient Persian wisdom at the same time. The novel narrates the inner world of a blind girl, where the desire for love and freedom awakes the evil. It allows the reader to discover the darkest, deepest corners of her recluse world, and to understand her confinement. In this gothic atmosphere, in the absence of light...