Book Reviews


"Career, love, happiness—for Mina Rezayi, everything becomes a gently humorous negotiation between her Iranian heritage and her American hopes, between her mother and herself… Deftly threaded memories of Iran and of the revolution’s effects on their family enrich the story as Mina and Darya gain sympathy for each other’s struggles. Sparkling dialogue and warm characters make Kamali’s debut novel perfect for book clubs."
—Kirkus Reviews

"Kamali’s debut, set in the mid-’90s, is the story of Darya and Mina Rezayi, mother and daughter in a family that emigrated to the U.S. from Iran after Mina’s grandmother was killed by an Iraqi bomb. One of three children trying to live up to their parents’ expectations, Mina would rather paint than finish her MBA. But mostly she wishes her mother, a frustrated mathematician, would stop creating spreadsheets of eligible Iranian-American men, who have so far all disappointed her. Darya’s husband embraces the can-do American spirit, but she misses prerevolutionary Iran, with its emphasis on family and tradition, and accompanies Mina on a visit to their homeland. The book’s second part takes place in Tehran, but during the revolution and the early years of the war with Iraq. Kamali’s lyrical writing is particularly vivid here, and warm, as with the many descriptions of tarof, a Persian verbal tradition. 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

"Joining a growing list of Middle Eastern American immigration novels is Kamali’s lively debut about one Iranian family making the difficult adjustment to life in the U.S. Parviz and Darya; their 10-year-old daughter, Mina; and her two older brothers came to New York City in 1982, when Iraq began dropping bombs on Iran. Fifteen years later, Darya has given up her dream of becoming a mathematician, using her skills, instead, to calculate statistics pertaining to available Iranian bachelors for Mina, assigning points for everything from good teeth to graduate degrees. Mina is exasperated with her mother’s matchmaking, and disillusioned with business school. She concludes she desperately needs a break, and tells her parents she wants to journey to Iran and rediscover the country they left behind. Darya wants to accompany her daughter, so off they go—hoping to reaffirm Mina’s roots and perhaps strengthen their relationship as well. Kamali perfectly captures the sights, sounds, and smells of Tehran as relatives celebrate with one extravagant party after the other. Humor, romance, and tradition all combine in an enjoyable chick-lit tale, Iranian style."

— Booklist

“Together Tea is a sweet treat of a novel that explores the unyielding ties between mothers and daughters. Eighteen years after fleeing revolutionary Iran, the Rezayi family still clings to their Persian traditions, especially when it comes to their youngest daughter, Mina. She wants to be an artist but her mother, Darya, wants Mina to finish her business degree and marry the perfect Persian man. Kamali’s characters delicately make their way through clashing cultures and come out the other side with a very happy ending for all."
— The Star Tribune

“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

“I’m always looking for a novel like this: 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

“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. With evocative images of the Shah’s Iran, and post-revolution depictions of this ancient nation, Kamali’s work is a window into a culture and history that all Americans should know and acknowledge. Her writing spans oceans yet depicts a common humanity—a lovely work.”
—Rishi Reddi, award-winning author of Karma and Other Stories



Excerpts from
Together Tea have won:

  • Top Ten Finalist
    Asian American Short Story Contest
  • Top Finalist
    Glimmer Train Short
    Story Contest
  • Featured on
    BBC Radio 4

An excerpt from Marjan's forthcoming novel, the Stationery Shop has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize