A Novel


A seductive and intriguing journey from the humble Persian Jewish quarter to the fascinating world of shahs, soothsayers, eunuchs, and sultanas, Harem follows three generations of strong-willed and cunning women: Rebekah -- a poor girl married to the abusive blacksmith, Jacob the fatherless -- who emerges from her disastrous match with a mysterious brand between her breasts; Gold Dust, Rebekah's treasured daughter, who enters the opulent and perilous world of the harem and captivates the shah with her singing bones; and Gold Dust's daughter, the revered and feared albino princess Raven, who will one day rule the empire.
Rich in visual imagery, Harem vividly depicts the exotic bazaars and dangerous alleys of the city and palace chambers brimming with conspiracy and betrayal -- as well as love and redemption. A skillfully crafted, intricately textured novel, Harem represents the beginning of a remarkable literary career.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743230216 | 
  • August 2002
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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Points
  1. Set in the Jewish Quarter of Ancient Persia, Harem follows the lives of three generations of courageous and cunning women -- Rebekah; her daughter, Gold Dust; and her granddaughter, Raven -- who are determined to realize their dreams despite the limitations of their forbidding society. How do those limitations change over the course of the novel? How do their dreams differ? How successful is each woman in achieving her dreams?
  2. At the opening of the novel, Rebekah of the violet eyes heard a voice that would haunt her the rest of her life. As she hugs her doll, tossing on her pallet suspended between wakefulness and sleep, ten-year-old Rebekah is captivated by the stranger with a voice like music, who she is convinced will be chosen as her future husband. In a sense it can be said that Rebekah falls in love at first sound. What does the man's voice represent for her? Why do you think Rebekah's dying mother believed she was choosing a better future for her daughter by choosing Jacob the Fatherless? Do you think the stranger continues to inhabit Rebekah's fantasies more because of the brutality of her marriage, or because Rebekah and Rouh'Allah the Spirit of God are fated to be together?
  3. Alarmed by the growing madness she can see in her husband's eyes, Rebekah yearns to escape. Yet when Jacob slyly tells her she can
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About the Author

Dora Levy Mossanen
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Dora Levy Mossanen

Dora Levy Mossanen was born in Israel and moved to Iran when she was nine. At the onset of the Islamic revolution, she and her family fled to the United States. The recipient of the San Diego State University Editor's Choice award and the author of Harem, a widely acclaimed novel translated into numerous languages, Dora Levy Mossanen lives in Beverly Hills, California. She can be reached at DoraLevyMossanen.com.