A Good Country


Laleh Khadivi

First Sentence:     They told him it was the best, there was nothing better.

Back of the book:

Laguna Beach, California, 2010. Alireza Courdee, a fourteen-year-old, straight-A student, takes his first hit of pot. In that moment, he is transformed from the high-achieving son of Iranian immigrants into a happy-go-lucky stoner. He loses his virginity, starts surfing, cuts classes and lies to his father. For the first time, Reza – now Rez – feels like an all-American teen.

Then a terror incident shocks the nation. As fears escalate, his newfound friends withdraw and Rez becomes increasingly isolated, an object of suspicion because of his name and skin colour. Now he can only relate to Arash, a fellow Muslim student, and beautiful Fatima, who starts wearing a hijab and going to the local mosque. Little by little, Reza is drawn into a troubling new world.

Delicately capturing a young man’s alienation and search for identity, A Good Country is an unforgettable modern coming-of-age story. It is also a powerful portrait of the ways in which international events reverberate across the globe, damaging distant lives. Insightful, nuanced and emotionally forceful, it is an important book for our times.

Quotes from the book:

And then it was out of his mouth and he couldn’t take it back. The words smashed around the car like a trapped bird and Fatima drove even faster. She stared at the road and kept both hands on the wheel and Rez wished she would at least turn to him and see that he was sorry.

“They flew through the night, two or three hundred people in rows, each a universe of histories and desires and fears and futures.”

He considered himself, and the way he moved in reaction, like a pinball , from one thing to the next, as he was told, as was expected, as made the least friction, and he knew this was the lazy behaviour of a scared boy.

* * * *

Last Sentence:     Reza rises, all the fight drained from him now, and jogs to his truck and hops in next to the others, some with green faces, some with darkened eyes, and sits among them and joins them as empty a man as he can be, a man ready to fire bullets or receive the bullets, a man ready to give himself away and be received by love.