The Last Days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan
A Novel

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...she tells her story from multiple perspectives, creating sympathetic characters with rich inner lives. If the ending isn’t completely satisfying, it’s at least pleasantly unexpected.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

“A glorious treat awaits you at the literary table of Donia Bijan.” —Adriana Trigiani

Set against the backdrop of Iran’s rich, turbulent history, this exquisite debut novel is a powerful story of food, family, and a bittersweet homecoming. When we first meet Noor, she is living in San Francisco, missing her beloved father, Zod, in Iran. Now, dragging her stubborn teenage daughter, Lily, with her, she returns to Tehran and to Café Leila, the restaurant her family has been running for three generations. Iran may have changed, but Café Leila, still run by Zod, has stayed blessedly the same—it is a refuge of laughter and solace for its makeshift family of staff and regulars.

As Noor revisits her Persian childhood, she must rethink who she is—a mother, a daughter, a woman estranged from her marriage and from her life in California. And together, she and Lily get swept up in the beauty and brutality of Tehran.

Bijan’s vivid, layered story, at once tender and elegant, funny and sad, weaves together the complexities of history, domesticity, and loyalty and, best of all, transports readers to another culture, another time, and another emotional landscape.
 
 

About Donia Bijan

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Donia Bijan graduated from UC Berkeley and Le Cordon Bleu. After presiding over many of San Francisco’s acclaimed restaurants and earning awards for her French-inspired cuisine, in 1994 she opened her own restaurant, L’amie Donia, in Palo Alto. She now divides her days between raising her son, teaching, and writing.
 
Published April 18, 2017 by Algonquin Books. 304 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Last Days of Café Leila
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on Feb 05 2017

...she tells her story from multiple perspectives, creating sympathetic characters with rich inner lives. If the ending isn’t completely satisfying, it’s at least pleasantly unexpected.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Saadia Faruqi on Apr 19 2017

Is this really a book about the last days of a restaurant, or those of a legacy that spans generations? Readers will enjoy this novel filled the idea of homecoming and motherhood, and a rare glimpse into post-revolution Iran, and most importantly the food.

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Danette Chavez on Apr 17 2017

There’s no neat resolution for their doubts; like Café Leila’s owners, Bijan just invites her characters to break bread and share their stories.

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