Book Launch: Rabeah Ghaffari — 'To Keep the Sun Alive'


Author Rabeah Ghaffari in conversation with Shirin Neshat

Join us for the launch of Rabeah Ghaffari’s compelling debut novel To Keep the Sun Alive which portrays the 1979 Iranian Revolution through family dramas and personal struggles. Author and filmmaker Ghaffari will be joined in a conversation by artist Shirin Neshat.

[Read an excerpt of To Keep the Sun Alive]

The year is 1979. The Iranian Revolution is just around the corner, as is a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse. Meanwhile, in the northeastern city of Naishapur, a retired judge and his wife, Bibi, tend an ancient orchard, growing apples, plums, peaches, and sour cherries, and provide the linchpin for an extended and contentious family whose personal divisions reflect the growing fault lines in Iranian society of that time. They pass their days by long, elaborate family lunches on the terrace and arguments about government corruption and the rise of religious fundamentalism, peppered with tales of ancient Persia that foreshadow the seismic political changes to come.

Family rituals and traditions are honored by Bibi, the matriarch, as she struggles to keep her family together. One nephew goes to university, hoping to lead the fight for a new Iran and marry his childhood sweetheart while another surrenders to opium. One brother longs for a life in Europe, another brother evolves into a powerful Islamic cleric and Bibi’s husband retreats into intellectual reflection. Told through a host of vivid, unforgettable characters, ranging from children to servants to family friends To Keep the Sun Alive is a compelling, richly woven story that not only retells the past but also reminds us of the human aspirations that animate historical events.

Followed by a book sale and signing. 

Watch Rabeah Ghaffari read from To Keep the Sun Alive:

Rabeah Ghaffari. Photo: Angela Levin

Rabeah Ghaffari was born in Iran and lives in New York City. She is a filmmaker and writer whose work has appeared in the Tribeca Film Festival. Her collaborative fiction with artist Shirin Neshat was featured in Reflections on Islamic Art (Bloomsbury/Qatar) and her documentary, The Troupe, featured Tony Kushner and received funding from the Ford Foundation and Lincoln Center. Her most recent feature-length screenplay, The Inheritors, was commissioned by producer/costume designer Patricia Field. To Keep the Sun Alive is her first novel.

Shirin Neshat: Photo Rodolfo Martinez

Shirin Neshat is an internationally recognized Iranian visual artist who lives in New York City. Known primarily for her work in film, video and photography Neshat has had a long association with Asia Society which presented her video installation ''Tooba,'' in 2003 and in 2008 she was the co-curator of the exhibition Ardeshir Mohasses: Art and Satire in Iran. In 2017, Neshat directed her first opera, Aida, at the Salzburg Music Festival and her most recent feature film Looking for Oum Kulthum opened at the Venice Film Festival.  

To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari can be purchased at AsiaStore or through the AsiaStore website. 


Event Details

Thu 10 Jan 2019
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Asia Society
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Buy Tickets
$10 members; $12 students/seniors; $15 nonmembers
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