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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Together Tea" by Marjan Kamali

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Together Tea" by Marjan Kamali

  1. Identity and Cultural Heritage:

    • How do the characters in "Together Tea" navigate their dual identities as Iranian-Americans? How does their cultural heritage shape their experiences and interactions with both Iranian and American culture?
    • Discuss the ways in which the protagonist, Darya, grapples with her Iranian heritage and American upbringing. How does she reconcile the two aspects of her identity throughout the novel?
  2. Family Dynamics:

    • Explore the dynamics of the Iranian-American family portrayed in the novel, including Darya's relationship with her parents, siblings, and extended family. How do cultural traditions and generational differences impact family dynamics?
    • Discuss the themes of love, sacrifice, and understanding within the family unit as depicted in "Together Tea."
  3. Immigrant Experience:

    • How does "Together Tea" depict the immigrant experience, particularly for Iranian immigrants in the United States? What challenges do the characters face as they navigate assimilation, cultural differences, and the pursuit of the American Dream?
    • Discuss the ways in which the novel addresses issues of belonging, displacement, and the search for identity among immigrant communities.
  4. Mother-Daughter Relationships:

    • Central to the novel is the relationship between Darya and her mother, Maman. How does their relationship evolve throughout the story, and what role does it play in shaping Darya's identity and decisions?
    • Explore the themes of intergenerational conflict, communication, and mutual understanding in the mother-daughter relationships depicted in the novel.
  5. Love and Romance:

    • "Together Tea" explores various romantic relationships, including Darya's own experiences with love and romance. How do cultural expectations and personal aspirations influence the characters' romantic pursuits?
    • Discuss the portrayal of love and romance in the novel, including themes of tradition, modernity, and finding love across cultural boundaries.
  6. Cultural Traditions and Rituals:

    • The novel vividly depicts Iranian cultural traditions and rituals, such as tea ceremonies, Nowruz celebrations, and family gatherings. How do these traditions contribute to the characters' sense of identity and connection to their heritage?
    • Explore the significance of specific cultural rituals and customs portrayed in "Together Tea" and their role in shaping family relationships and community bonds.
  7. Personal Growth and Self-Discovery:

    • Throughout the novel, Darya undergoes a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. How does she evolve as a character, and what lessons does she learn about herself, her family, and her cultural heritage?
    • Discuss the importance of self-discovery and embracing one's identity in "Together Tea," especially in the context of cultural and familial expectations.
  8. Narrative Style and Themes:

    • Analyze the narrative style of "Together Tea" and how it contributes to the exploration of themes such as family, identity, and cultural heritage. How does Kamali's storytelling approach enhance the reader's understanding of the characters and their experiences?
    • Discuss the significance of the novel's title, "Together Tea," and its thematic relevance to the story.

Marjan Kamali is an Iranian-American author known for her evocative storytelling and exploration of themes related to family, identity, and cultural heritage. She was born in Turkey and spent her childhood in Kenya, Germany, Turkey, Iran, and the United States. This multicultural upbringing greatly influenced her perspective and writing style.

Kamali holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. After working briefly in the engineering field, she pursued her passion for writing and earned a Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Kamali's debut novel, "Together Tea," was published in 2013 and received critical acclaim for its exploration of the Iranian-American immigrant experience. The novel follows the story of Darya, a young Iranian-American woman navigating the complexities of family, love, and cultural identity. "Together Tea" showcases Kamali's skillful portrayal of Iranian culture and traditions, as well as her ability to create authentic and relatable characters.

In addition to her novel, Kamali's short stories and essays have been published in various literary journals and anthologies. Her writing often reflects her own experiences as an immigrant and explores themes of belonging, displacement, and the search for identity.

Marjan Kamali currently lives with her husband and two children in the Boston area, where she continues to write and engage with readers through her work. She is passionate about promoting diversity and representation in literature and strives to create stories that resonate with readers from diverse backgrounds.

Kamali's writing has been praised for its lyrical prose, emotional depth, and poignant exploration of universal themes. She remains an important voice in contemporary literature, contributing to the rich tapestry of immigrant narratives and cultural storytelling.


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