Martyr!: a Novel

352 pages

Published March 20, 2024 by Knopf.

ISBN:
978-0-593-53761-9
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5 stars (3 reviews)

Poet Akbar (Calling a Wolf a Wolf) explores the allure of martyrdom in this electrifying story of a Midwestern poet struggling with addiction and grief. Cyrus Shams, an orphaned son of Iranian immigrants, is fixated on finding meaning in the deaths of his parents—his mother in a plane that was accidentally shot down by the U.S. Navy over the Persian Gulf, his father from a stroke. His obsession strains his relationships, particularly with his closest friend and roommate Zee Novak, as does his heavy drinking and drug use. Immersed in the study of martyrs throughout history, Cyrus finds focus for his project when he meets Orkideh, an older painter foregoing treatment for her terminal breast cancer, and he realizes he has an opportunity to interview a living martyr. More details would spoil the plot, which thickens when connections are revealed between Cyrus and Orkideh as well as secrets about Cyrus’s …

1 edition

A novel written by a poet

4 stars

It was good! There was a plot point early on that kind of fucked with my suspension of disbelief and bugged me like a splinter the whole rest of the read, and some neatness in the plot that I wasn't totally buying/in the mood for. But I'm a sucker for expert prose, subtly handled subject matter, and readability so it won me over.

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5 stars