The Book of Fate

(Sahme Man)

Parinoush Saniee

Winner of The Boccaccio Prizein Italy
Winner of The Euskadi De Plata Prize in The Basque Country
Notable Book Of 2013 – World Literature Today
Number One bestseller in many countries

Book of Fate

‘This epic account of the life of Massoumeh, an Iranian woman, spans 50 years of repression, deprivation, abuse and misery, and opens a window on half a century of turbulent history. Banned twice in Iran, it’s now one of the all-time bestselling books there: it’s hard to imagine the impact such an uncompromising narrative must have had… Rarely can a novel have sustained such levels of emotion over so many gut-wrenching pages. Ultimately, it’s a memorable and nuanced dissection of a patriarchal society.’ The Guardian

‘Written with passion and anger from the inside, it’s a compelling account of five decades of Iranian history, and of how awful the lives of women in an honour-based patriarchal society can be.’ Independent on Sunday

‘Coming to us in the wake of a turbulent Arab Spring, the English translation of Parinoush Saniee’s controversial debut novel uncovers essential human truths by foraging among some of the foundation stones of that unrest… The Book of Fate is a family saga that derives its power from the presentation of inarguable facts. It is also a story of love, friendship and endurance against overwhelming odds… this is a monumental achievement and has surely contributed to the book’s banning in its native land and to its international acclaim. Books like this bring us the world, and are to be savoured.’ The Irish Examiner

‘Saniee gives a voice to all the Iranian women who are victims and prisoners of domestic violence, tradition and men’s abuses… Saniee’s women are contemporary heroines who fight to obtain civil rights even if that can cost them their lives.’ Cultura, Italy

‘Delightful and frank. A bold and sincere portrayal of injustices so masterful that no oppressive court can logically or openly ban its publication. Tyranny openly admissible in backward societies towards women and yet the overwhelming protection offered to men by the “current tradition” are articulated through fictional characters. From start to finish, it is a privation tale of Iranian women who will not give up and continue to strive for their rights.’ Bokhara Magazine, Iran

‘an ode to women, not just of Iran but of societies all over the world, who have had to struggle to get their basic rights.’ Gulf News

This is a story of an Iranian girl who finds love on her way to school. When found out, she is forced into marriage to a political dissident during the last days of the Shah’s regime but is widowed soon after when her husband is executed at the hands of the new regime. When after 32 years her first love reappears, she is faced with indignation from her three grown up children, two of whom live abroad. Should she put her own feelings first or those of her children?

This is an extremely moving and powerful tale of women in Iran, beginning before the revolution of 1979 through the Islamic Republic to the present.Spanning five decades it tells the story of the changing fortunes of one family and in particular of Massoumeh, the daughter. Through the highs and lows, having children and finding work (and losing it again because of political change), the changing attitudes in Iran are vividly depicted through the characters. This is a window on recent Iranian history untainted by ‘western interpretation’ making it that much more fascinating and revealing.It is a story of strong women fighting for what they want against huge odds, a story of friendship and passion, of religious oppression but also of love for the country.

Though it was banned twice by the Iranian regime, it has now been reprinted over 20 times and is at the top of the best ever selling books in Iran. Already published to great acclaim and success in Italy where it won the Boccaccio prize for the best international book

‘It awakens our collective memories and brings back to life those we have long forgotten.’ Universe of Books, Iran

‘The writer pushes through the personality of her characters through time and historical events that many storytellers often do not dare to mention. Not content with tribulations during the revolution, she takes the fate of her heroine’s spouse through barbed wires and to today’s political slaughterhouse.’ Hemlock Magazine, Iran

‘A sensation’ from Iran’ Dagbladet, Norway

‘An important book’ Aftenposten Norway

‘Uplifting, heartbreaking and sometimes harrowing, fans of authors such as Khaled Hosseini will savour this remarkable story by a writer set to break new ground in modern Iranian literature.’ Worcester News, UK

‘The Book of Fate is a family saga with a cast of characters ranging from heroic to venal. Parinoush Saniee’s compelling tale (translated by Sara Khalili) is partly inspired by the work of Iran’s greatest female poet, Forough Farrokhzad, and by telling Massoumeh’s story, evokes the journey of one of the world’s oldest civilizations as it enters the twenty-first century.
Through many dramatic twists and turns, Saniee reveals the perils of idolatry, which so often leads to tyranny, whether in the domestic sphere or the nation state.’ For Book’s Sake, UK

‘The Book of Fate provides an interesting look into life for women in Iran, and the ongoing struggle against oppressive tradition.’ Dead Ink, UK

‘Iranian author Parinoush Saniee’s astounding first novel spans 50 years in the life of Massoumeh, from before, during and after Iran’s 1979 revolution. With fantastic skill and sharp observations, Saniee paints an insightful picture of a young woman’s tumultuous life in a male-dominated world of religion and traditions.’ Sunday Sun


  • Roozbahan Iran
  • Abacus/Little Brown UK
  • Garzanti Italy
  • Font Forlag Norway
  • Gyldendal Denmark
  • Knaus Verlag Germany
  • Janet 45 Bulgaria
  • Polirom Romania
  • Artemis/AmboAnthos NL
  • Arab Scientific Press World Arabic
  • Laffont France
  • Vulkan Serbia
  • Book Recipe South Korea
  • Corpus Russia
  • Shoshi Kankanbo Japan
  • Sonia Draga Poland
  • Tericum Hungary
  • Yordam Kitap Turkey
  • House of Anansi North America
  • Bertrand Editora Portugal
  • Tammi Finland
  • Bertrand Brazil
  • Qanun Azerbaijan
  • Bata Press Macedonia
  • Ordfront Sweden
  • Andesha Kurdish
  • Citic Press China (simplified characters)
  • Alianza Editorial Spain and Latin America
  • Blackstone Audio USA
  • Jota Czechia
  • Storyside Audio Danish

Material: Iranian, English and many other editions (447pp)