Former award-winning restaurateur Donia Bijan shares her stunning debut novel, The Last Days of Cafe Leila. A neighborhood cafe in Tehran is at the center of this powerful and transporting story of love, family, friendship, and homecoming told against the backdrop of Iran's rich, yet tragic, history.
When Noor returns to her native Iran for the first time in thirty years, so much about her homeland is different. But Cafe Leila--the restaurant Noor's family has run for three generations--hasn't changed. Zod, Noor's father, is still at the cafe's helm, a much-loved patriarch offering laughter, solace, and nourishment to the makeshift family of regulars and waiters who call Cafe Leila home. With her discontented, very American teenage daughter, Lily, reluctantly at her side, Noor struggles to maintain a semblance of family life. But Tehran is a place of contradictions, where grace and brutal violence both have a foothold, and it's not long before rebellious Lily is caught up in both.
As the novel folds back in time, stories emerge of Noor's ancestors, particularly of her mother, who was killed when Noor was a teenager. As past and present converge, Noor begins to understand her place in--and her responsibility to--this world and to the many souls who have sought refuge at the cafe. The Last Days of Cafe Leila is a powerful debut about the delicate, sometimes dangerous balance between history and progress, and the resilience of a family in the face of upheaval.