x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Saved by Beauty: inside "the other Iran"

Newly single and facing the abyss of writer's block, the Anglo-American poet and novelist Roger Housden decides to travel to Iran for a first-hand look beyond the negative headlines.

Saved by Beauty
Roger Housden
Broadway Books
Dh103
Saved by Beauty Roger Housden Broadway Books Dh103

With cheaper airfares and an ever-increasing number of routes and connections to be made, the world is becoming a smaller place.

Nevertheless, there are still some locations that remain - due to political, social and cultural barriers - out of our grasp. Iran, a short hop across the water from here, is one such place.

Roger Housden attempts to break through this barrier with Saved by Beauty.

Newly single and facing the abyss of writer's block, the Anglo-American poet and novelist decides to pack his bags and travel to "the other Iran". His mission, he tells the reader, is to see whether the country matches up to the mystical fantasies of his youth.

Housden's journey takes him from antique shops to tea houses, from mosques to a police interrogation room. He discovers that despite the political turmoil and generational clashes that threaten Iranian society, the traditions of the nation's past are still evident today.

Written with a poetic eye, Saved by Beauty's lush prose is never overbearing. Instead, Housden allows us to look past the headlines and appreciate the beauty of everyday life in modern Iran.