Through The Sad Wood Our Corpses Will Hang

By (author) Ava Farmehri
Categories: Fiction: general and literary, Fiction and Related items
Series: Essential Prose Series
Publisher: Guernica Editions
Paperback : 9781771831567, 285 pages, September 2017


At 20, Sheyda Porrouya’s life is almost over. Born in Iran on the day the mullahs declare the birth of the Islamic Republic, she witnesses the purging of all things Western and un-Islamic. Accused of killing her mother, Sheyda is sentenced to death. The narrative jumps back and forth from Sheyda’s childhood to life in one of Iran’s most notorious prisons.


As the novel opens, Sheyda has just been sentenced to death for the murder of her mother. Her mood is fatalistic, her tears ones of happiness. Ava Farmehri grew up in the Middle East before coming to Canada. The arresting title is a quote from Dante’s Inferno.

- Toronto Star

The prose in this book is undeniably beautiful, emancipated by the unhinged mental state of the narrator. Sheyda's logical mental leaps disassociate her with reality and portray her dissatisfaction with life, and a yearning to find another like her. In her lonely existence, she finds comfort in broken dreams and in imagining returned love. Between moments of disturbed joy in Sheyda's imagination and her dark sense of humour, she is subjected to abuse in the conditions of a notorious prison. The use of physical symbols is also really interesting as it is ambiguous as to what Sheyda sees is actually there, such as the black cat and the birds. Her character is so fully fleshed out that the reader can fully imagine meeting Sheyda as a friend, and imagine how she might think and react.

- Salima Bensalah

Ava Farmehri’s prose is beautifully written without taking away from the story. The novel explores many areas: political unrest, mental illness, feminism, complex relationships, and social isolation. What will ultimately keep you reading is the beautiful prose and need for answers.

- All Lit Up