July 2019 Indie Next List
“The Stationery Shop is one of the most beautifully written novels I have read in a long time. The masterful plot brings us to a lost time and culture, but also transcends time and country. In a story set against the upheaval of 1953 Tehran, we discover how events change the destiny of two teenagers who meet in a book and stationery shop and fall in love. This novel of political dreams, family loyalty, lingering memories, love, and fate will haunt you long after the story ends.”
— Janet Hutchison, The Open Door Bookstore, Schenectady, NY
ONE OF NPR’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019
From the award-winning author of Together Tea—a debut novel hailed as “compassionate, funny, and wise” by Jill Davis, bestselling author of Girls’ Poker Night—comes a powerful love story exploring loss, reconciliation, and the quirks of fate.
Roya is a dreamy, idealistic teenager living in 1953 Tehran who, amidst the political upheaval of the time, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood book and stationery shop. She always feels safe in his dusty store, overflowing with fountain pens, shiny ink bottles, and thick pads of soft writing paper.
When Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—she loses her heart at once. And, as their romance blossoms, the modest little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.
A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square, but suddenly, violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she resigns herself to never seeing him again.
Until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did he leave? Where did he go? How was he able to forget her?
The Stationery Shop is a beautiful and timely exploration of devastating loss, unbreakable family bonds, and the overwhelming power of love.
About the Author
Marjan Kamali, born in Turkey to Iranian parents, spent her childhood in Kenya, Germany, Turkey, Iran, and the United States. She holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Columbia University, and New York University. Her work has also been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in two anthologies: Tremors and Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been. An excerpt from The Stationery Shop was published in Solstice Literary Magazine and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her debut novel Together Tea was a Massachusetts Book Award Finalist, an NPR WBUR Good Read, and a Target Emerging Author Selection. Marjan lives with her husband and two children in the Boston area.
"[A] moving tale of lost love."
— The Wall Street Journal
“Marjan Kamali weaves a powerful, heartbreaking story of star-crossed lovers and Iran's political upheavals...The Stationery Shop is at once a layered historical saga of a country struggling toward democracy and an intimate meditation on "a love from which we never recover.”
— Shelf Awareness
“Marjan Kamali's The Stationery Shop is an affecting novel about first love.”
— Real Simple
"A beautifully immersive tale, THE STATIONERY SHOP brings to life a lost and complex world and the captivating characters who once called it home."
— Jasmin Darznik, New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD DAUGHTER and SONG OF A CAPTIVE BIRD
“Kamali paints an evocative portrait of 1950s Iran and its political upheaval, and she cleverly writes the heartbreak of Roya and Bahman’s romance to mirror the tragic recent history of their country. Simultaneously briskly paced and deeply moving, this will appeal to fans of Khaled Hosseini and should find a wide audience.”
"A sweeping romantic tale of thwarted love."
— Kirkus Reviews
"The unfurling stories in Kamali’s sophomore novel (after Together Tea) will stun readers as the aromas of Persian cooking wafting throughout convince us that love can last a lifetime. For those who enjoy getting caught up in romance while discovering unfamiliar history of another country."
— Library Journal
"Grab your tissues . . . Marjan Kamali’s second novel channels love in the time of coup d’états. Set among the political upheaval of 1950s Tehran, The Stationery Shop follows teenager Roya as she discovers the power of love, loss, and then, decades later, fate. And did we mention you’ll need tissues?"
— Boston Magazine
"A tender story of enduring love."
— Minneapolis Star Tribune
"I! Am! Obsessed! With! This! Book! . . . Think The Notebook, only better (no offense, Ryan Gosling)."
"If you’re looking for a summer release unlike any other, you’ll love The Stationery Shop."
— Working Mother
"A beautiful, emotionally honest story about first love, deep family bonds, and fate."
— Pop Sugar
“What a pleasure—a novel that is all at once masterfully plotted, beautifully written, and filled with characters who are arresting, lovable, and so real. Brava, Marjan Kamali; now that I’ve finished, I miss this world of yours.”
— Elinor Lipman, author of GOOD RIDDANCE and TURPENTINE LANE
"A heart-wrenching story about two literary souls torn apart by social upheaval . . . a tragically beautiful narrative of star-crossed lovers."
— The Daily Nebraskan
"Set against the political turmoil of 1950's Tehran, Marjan Kamali's THE STATIONERY SHOP illuminates how love is experienced over time and influenced by the fingerprints of others. Yet. despite every obstacle, the power of heart and memory endure. A beautiful and sensitive novel that I loved from the first page."
— Alyson Richman, international bestselling author of THE LOST WIFE and THE SECRET OF CLOUDS
“Spanning decades and continents, Marjan Kamali’s richly imagined novel immerses us in the blossoming love affair between two Iranian teenagers, set against the political upheaval of 1950s Tehran. Evocative, devastating, and hauntingly beautiful, THE STATIONERY SHOP explores love’s power to transcend time and distance—and the ways fate can tear people apart and bring them back together. This book broke my heart again and again.”
— Whitney Scharer, author of THE AGE OF LIGHT
"A beautifully written book that is full of emotion and heart. . . . Book groups will want to devour it --and serve some Persian food during their discussions."
"A rich story of loss and true love."
— Woman's World
"A powerful love story."
“[A] tender story of lifelong love…The loss of love and changing worlds is vividly captured by Kamali; time and circumstances kept these lovers apart, but nothing diminishes their connection. Readers will be swept away.”
— Publishers Weekly
"[A] tender, beautifully crafted novel . . . that reduced me to tears. The Stationery Shop is an exemplary novel about families and how our secrets build walls and make us ill. It’s a passionate book about love that endures and how fate often intervenes, forcing us to take paths we never would have envisioned."
— The Missourian
“The Stationery Shop is a wistful look at two idealists and the world they should have inherited . . . Kamali offers a paean not just to lost love, but to the poetry, food, and culture that fed their memories for 60 years.”
— Christian Science Monitor
"A sweet, lyrical story that blurs the lines of historical fiction and romance. Fans of Martha Hall Kelly and Azar Nafisi will enjoy this one."
— The Register-Herald (Beckley, WV)
"This tender, romantic tale is suffused with the scents, sights, and sounds of mid-century Iran; a firm sense of place evoked in the prose and communicated through poetic phrases. Believable, refreshing, enchanting."
— Addison County Independent
“The writing was lush, immersive and so, very sincere. This beautiful love story, set upon a backdrop of political conflict and revolution, had me hooked from chapter one.”
— Jasmin Kaur, author of When You Ask Me Where I’m Going
"Reading The Stationery Shop felt like drinking from a cupful of sadness, and perversely relishing it till the very last drop."
— The Hindu
"[A] big, ambitious, beautifully executed novel that draws the reader in and never lets go."
— SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT
"Part of the joy of this book is the journey, the discovery of the why when we already know the what. This is a beautiful book with drool-worthy descriptions of Persian food. . . . This story is about the other side of love, which is grief, and the other side of grief, which is love."
— Historical Novels Review