Do you believe Noor made the right decision in the end?
At the end of the novel, Noor makes a last minute decision to stay in Tehran to care for the Cafe Leila, Ferry, and the rest of the inhabitants of the house instead of returning to America with her husband and daughter. Many of her family members, including Nelson and Mehrdad believe she is acting irrationally after the death of her father and her decision comes from a place of grief. The epilogue doesn’t seem to reveal unhappiness about her decision, however, and Lily promises to come visit over the summer. Do you believe Noor should have gone back to America? Is this what Zod would have wanted?
Are Lily’s actions brave or stupid?
Throughout the novel, teenaged Lily is flabberghasted at the way women are forced to behave in Tehran. She does not like following the dress codes and even directly disobeys them when she goes swimming with Karim while dressed as a boy. Sometimes these actions lead to something good, like the rescue of Ferry from an acid attack, but other times they may be construed as headstrong and ignorant of the culture of the country where she is staying. Do you think Lily is brave for standing up against Tehran’s oppressive laws?
What foods are integral to your ideas of home and family?
Food is an incredibly important theme in The Last Days of Cafe Leila. There are different foods for weddings, funerals, birthdays, and other family milestones and the generations of the Yadegar family are all brought together by cooking together in the kitchen of the Cafe Leila. What foods hold significance to your family and your culture?
Would the family have been better off if they knew what really happened to Pari?
The Last Days of Cafe Leila has an omniscent narrator that tells the reader what happens to beautiful matriarch and opera singer Pari, the details of which the family doesn’t know. Zod is driven crazy by his desire to learn about what happened to his beloved wife, searching for clues and getting turned down by government officials over and over again. We as readers learn of her long stay in prison, her rape, her miscarriage, and her ultimate death. These horrors are more than one family should ever have to bear. Would the closure of Zod and his children learning the truth about Pari be worth the pain it would cause them? Is it always better to know than not to?
The author’s questions for discussion can be found here along with an essay detailing her return to Tehran in 2010.
Jessica Jenkins ’19