Synopses & Reviews
John Macmillan is an Englishman in California studying Sufism, and in particular Rumi, the thirteenth-century Islamic mystic and at present the best-selling poet in America. Traveling to Damascus, he hears rumors of a secret, heretical manuscript that might have escaped from Iran during the chaos of its Revolution, and, taking a message back to California, ends up encountering Camilla Jensen, an open if somewhat wayward Californian, who seems in some way connected to the world of fugitive texts.
Following the trail of mystical poems through Spain and India to Iran, and trying to unravel the mystery that lies behind Camilla, John finds himself descending ever deeper into a world of passion and bewilderment. Then, suddenly, a manuscript appears, and Camilla disappears, leaving him closer to an understanding of some things, yet further from a real understanding of what is most important to him.
Abandon is a mystical romance in the classic Persian tradition brought into the bleached sunlight of Southern California today. But it is also an unexpected and distinctive look at the clash between Islam and the West, at a time when Los Angeles is partly run by Iranian exiles and the long-closed cities of Iran are slowly opening up to Westerners.
Eerie and incandescent, Abandon displays Iyer's unique gift for showing the dance of dreams and desires and preconceptions that ensues when cultures collide.
"Framed by the conflict between Islamic and secular Western values, this novel is part mystery, part spiritual coming-of-age tale, and part romance....Perhaps its greatest achievement is the evolution of the deep, passionate love between John and Camilla, which Iyer renders with grace and psychological acuity." Publishers Weekly
"Iyer's writing is often poetic, and in presenting the Persian diaspora in Southern California, he has an intriguing way of peeling back familiar landscapes to reveal hidden sights." Booklist
"Iyer's story reflects the beliefs of its devout characters in valuing the journey over the end result, and the reader is richer for it." Library Journal
John Macmillain, an English graduate student in California, is obsessed with understanding the secrets of Sufism. When rumors reach him of ancient Islamic manuscripts smuggled out of Iran, he follows their trail and meets an elusive woman who hints that she knows more than she seems to about the mysteries he is pursuing.
A stunning novel from the acclaimed observer of societies about whom Salon has written: "with extraordinary empathy and insight, Iyer shows how cultures collide...how a dance of dreams and desires and preconceptions ensues every time a visitor and a local meet." Abandon
is the story of one such dance.
John Macmillain, an English graduate student in California, is obsessed with understanding the secrets of Sufism. When rumors reach him of ancient Islamic manuscripts smuggled out of Iran, he follows their trail, fruitlessly, through Damascus and Spain and India. Empty-handed except for a package he's promised to deliver, he returns to California -- and meets Camilla Jensen. Open, enthusiastic, and strangely forward, Camilla seems the archetypal California girl. But as John grows closer to her, she grows more elusive, hinting that she knows more than she seems to about the mysteries John is pursuing. When one of the smuggled manuscripts inexplicably turns up, Camilla just as inexplicably disappears -- taking with her what may be the key to John's questions and his future.
Brilliantly evocative of place -- both physical and emotional -- Abandon is a dazzling story of illusion and magic, and of eerie, incandescent love.
About the Author
Pico Iyer has been a writer for Time since 1982, and his articles appear often in Harpers, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Condé Nast Traveler, and other publications on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific. Iyer divides his time between California and Japan.