About the Book
In Together Tea, Marjan Kamali’s delightful and heartwarming debut novel, Darya has discovered the perfect gift for her daughter’s twenty-fifth birthday: an ideal husband. Mina, however, is fed up with her mother’s years of endless matchmaking and the spreadsheets grading available Iranian-American bachelors. Having spent her childhood in Tehran and the rest of her life in New York City, Mina has experienced cultural clashes firsthand, but she’s learning that the greatest clashes sometimes happen at home.
After a last ill-fated attempt at matchmaking, mother and daughter embark on a return journey to Iran. Immersed once again in Persian culture, the two women gradually begin to understand each other. But when Mina falls for a young man who never appeared on her mother’s matchmaking radar, will Mina and Darya’s new-found appreciation for each other survive?
Together Tea is a moving and joyous debut novel about family, love, and finding the place you truly belong.
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“Marjan Kamali’s thoughtful novel presents the story of a young Iranian woman’s coming of age in modern America and her mother’s parallel journey from the old world to the new. Kamali’s writing spans oceans yet depicts a common humanity—a lovely work.” —Rishi Reddi, award-winning author of Karma and Other Stories
“Compassionate, funny, and wise, Together Tea is a treasure of a novel. Marjan Kamali creates a wonderfully loving and real story about a mother and daughter, and their complicated cultural identity. Its remarkable scope—from 1970s Tehran to 1990s New York—is beautifully rendered.” —Jill Davis, bestselling author of Girls’ Poker Night
“Smart and witty, with characters so dear you want to pack your suitcase and travel with them wherever they can take you. How lucky I feel to have been given this baklava-delicious gift of Persian immersion from a New York point of view.” —Elinor Lipman
“Sparkling dialogue and warm characters make Kamali’s debut novel perfect for book clubs.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Lyrical, vivid, and warm…Although there are differences in Mina’s and Darya’s American experiences, the author effectively evokes the pull both women feel toward Iran. She creates empathy for a people forced to live one life in public and another privately.” —Publishers Weekly
“[A] lively debut…Kamali perfectly captures the sights, sounds, and smells of Tehran. Humor, romance, and tradition all combine in an enjoyable chick-lit tale, Iranian style.” —Booklist
1. Describe the relationship between Mina and Darya at the beginning of the novel. What is it like at the story’s end? What do they learn about each other and themselves as the story goes on? Compare the two women. Are they more similar to each other than they know?
2. Darya believes in numbers and is confident that her spreadsheets hold the right match for her daughter. Is her thinking flawed? What discoveries does she make that challenge her confidence and change her thinking?
3. Why is Darya so determined to see Mina married? What would be Darya’s ideal man for her daughter?
4. What is your opinion of arranged marriages? Do they have advantages over love matches? What might have happened if Ramin’s name had been on Darya’s grid? Do you think Mina would have felt the same way if their meeting had been arranged rather than a matter of chance?
5. Mina’s parents encourage pursuing passion, like Darya’s Saturday math camp. Painting is Mina’s passion. Why do her parents discourage her from becoming an artist and insist on her going to business school? Why is rebuilding the family’s wealth and prestige so important to them?
6. What did Mina’s family lose when they left Iran? Why didn’t they stay? What did they gain by coming to America? How does growing up American impact who Mina is and the choices she can’or cannot’make? Why does Darya feel that she will never be an American, like her children? Is she right? What about Parviz?
7. Why does Mina want to visit Iran? What propels Darya? What are their impressions of their homeland once they arrive? How has it changed and how is it the same? What lessons does the visit hold for both of them? Do they find what they are looking for there?
8. Describe Darya’s marriage. Is she happy? What draws her to her new classmate Sam? What does he represent for her? Do you believe in true love? Can we be happy with one person as well as another? Is it possible to adapt our hearts?
9. What did you know about Iran before you read the novel? What did you learn about Iranians and their culture from reading Together Tea? What common misconceptions you do you think Americans and Iranians holds toward each other? How can we break through our prejudices? How would you fare living in a repressive regime such as Iran’s?
10. Compare Mina’s stuffing artwork under her bed with Darya’s storing away her math notebooks. Why is it that Mina is finally able to pursue her passion? Is she able to fulfill her potential due to growing up in the U.S., returning to Iran, seeing Bita again, visiting the artist in Isfahan or all of the above? What role does Bita play in Mina’s decisions in the U.S. after she returns?