SHORTLISTED FOR THE VICTORIAN PREMIER’S LITERARY AWARD FOR FICTION
Saeed has not returned to Iran after publishing his novel The Imaginary Narrative of a Real Murder for fear of political persecution. He is surprised when Ismael, his father who has never left Iran, announces that he is travelling to Adelaide to visit him. During his short stay, Ismael tells Saeed the story of his unrequited love for Forugh Farrokhzad—the most controversial poet of modern Iran. The story makes Saeed see his father in a new light, and leaves him with the haunting question: had his father, unwittingly, played a role in Forugh’s death?
This is a novel that matters deeply. Moving effortlessly between Adelaide and Iran, Asgari interweaves the private lives of a father and son, with the extraordinary life of daring Iranian poetess, Forugh Farrokhzad, shedding light on the underlying tensions that have shaped recent Iranian history, political upheavals, social norms, and sexual mores. Written with great clarity, quietude, and compassion, yet epic in scope, Only Sound Remains is compelling, moving, and revelatory. – Arnold Zable
Only Sound Remains is a formidably intelligent novel about growing into oneself informed by the life and poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad. It unfolds with an elegant tension that is a tantalising delight. Radiating warmth and wisdom, it is at once playful and erudite. Hossein Asgari is a truly remarkable new voice. He navigates different terrains, from literature, history and politics, with great skill and imagination. – Dominique Hecq
“Despite the novel’s ascetic title, Asgari knows a measured flourish: how a blushed cheek figures the stirring of memory (19) or a cigarette between ‘love-makings’ the cosmic span of human life (146)… Asgari covers the abstract beauty of poetic
language alongside illegal abortions, fatal childbirths, and patriarchal violences… Asgari’s act of storytelling spills across
these formal borders, as ‘found’ manuscripts and (mis)remembered poems perplex the border between truth and invention.”
JACOB SUNTER, The Saltbush Review: Issue 4