Season 2, Episode 2: "Trying to Invoke Our Emotions"
with Anita Amirrezvani and Alka Joshi
On this episode, we're excited to bring you Anita Amirrezvani in conversation with Alka Joshi.
Anita Amirrezvani’s first novel, The Blood of Flowers, has appeared in 34 languages and was long-listed for the 2008 Orange Prize for Fiction (now the Women’s Prize). Her second novel, Equal of the Sun, was published by Scribner and has appeared in ten languages. She teaches in the writing programs at the California College of the Arts.
Born in India and raised in the U.S. since she was nine, Alka Joshi has a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from California College of Arts. Joshi's debut novel, The Henna Artist, immediately became a NYT bestseller, a Reese Witherspoon Bookclub pick, was Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, & is in development as a TV series. Her latest book in the Jaipur trilogy, The Perfumist of Paris, was released in March, 2023.
Anita and Alka discuss their books, their history as mentor and student, their family histories in their homelands of Iran and India, and the importance of exemplary storytelling.
A sensuous and richly-imagined historical novel that centers on a skilled young carpet weaver, her arranged marriage, and her quest for self-determination in 17th-century Persia.
In 17th-century Iran, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great.
Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage to a wealthy man, the young woman finds herself faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.
"A stunning portrait of a woman blossoming into her full power…this is Alka Joshi's best book yet!”—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Diamond Eye
From the author of Reese's Book Club Pick The Henna Artist, the final chapter in Alka Joshi’s New York Times bestselling Jaipur trilogy takes listeners to 1970s Paris, where Radha’s budding career as a perfumer must compete with the demands of her family and the secrets of her past.
Paris, 1974. Radha is now living in Paris with her husband, Pierre, and their two daughters. She still grieves for the baby boy she gave up years ago, when she was only a child herself, but she loves being a mother to her daughters, and she’s finally found her passion—the treasure trove of scents.
She has an exciting and challenging position working for a master perfumer, helping to design completely new fragrances for clients and building her career one scent at a time. She only wishes Pierre could understand her need to work. She feels his frustration, but she can’t give up this thing that drives her.
Tasked with her first major project, Radha travels to India, where she enlists the help of her sister, Lakshmi, and the courtesans of Agra—women who use the power of fragrance to seduce, tease and entice. She’s on the cusp of a breakthrough when she finds out the son she never told her husband about is heading to Paris to find her—upending her carefully managed world and threatening to destroy a vulnerable marriage.
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The Book Club
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