Coming Down Again (fiction)
Joobin Bekhrad, 2016
With an introduction by Rahill Jamalifard
Cover artwork by Melodie Hojabr Sadat
One seemingly endless summer in Tehran, Asha, a brokenhearted schoolboy on sleepy Cypress Lane, finds himself with nothing to do. Nothing, that is, except daydream about escaping to London to become a rock and roll star, wait for Keith Richards and the Stones to come on the television, let his imagination run amok in his mum’s closet, and pine away in vain for Arezu, the pretty girl upstairs who’s hit it off with a classmate of his.
Down and out in the manic, bustling Iranian capital, Asha only finds solace in Ghermezi, his battered cherry-red guitar, the pin-ups on his bedroom wall, and his dreams. Though he longs to leave Tehran, in which he sees no place or future for himself, he also holds in his heart a special love and affection for the only city he’s ever known.
‘Coming Down Again’ offers a rich, rewarding immersion in the strangely familiar; its Bowie fan protagonist, Asha, cherishes his idea of London’s glam scene even while he struts and dreams in the streets of Tehran, amid that city’s very different sights, sounds, and scents. A wonderful portrait of teen abandon and ambition, and a fascinating counterpart to two of Bowie’s favourite books, ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ and ‘Absolute Beginners’.
Will Brooker, author of Forever Stardust: David Bowie Across the Universe
Joobin Bekhrad’s ‘Coming Down Again’ is packed with the faded ennui, delicious dalliances, and aching moments of invincibility that define a Iranian teenager’s coming of age. A brilliant novella by a clear, conscious voice in the style of excellent exile literature; evocative, crisp, and sumptuous, and abounding with poetic realism.
Tina Gharavi, BAFTA-nominated screenwriter, director, and activist
Playing ‘Ziggy Stardust’ in Iran: a magical rock and roll riff on growing up in Tehran.
Tom Holland, Hessell-Tiltman Prize-winning writer and historian
Cool, but not hipster, Tehran: disaffected youth yearning for nothing more than their counterparts in the West do: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Joobin Bekhrad’s ‘Coming Down Again’ is a wonderful journey there.
Hooman Majd, journalist, author, and Iranian affairs commentator
Bekhrad takes you right back to that sweet spot of your teenage years where you are full of dreams and feel like anything is possible – and, that no one understands you. Then, he makes you want to do Bowie impressions in the mirror all night.
Sarah Maple, acclaimed multidisciplinary artist
Bekhrad is a master at exploring the difficulty teenagers have with making such life-changing choices.
Compelling counterpoints! A Bowie-obsessed teenager growing up in Ahmadinejad’s Tehran. Fascinating.
‘Coming Down Again’ is a wonderfully written book. I enjoyed every exuberant word of it.
Roald Nasgaard, award-winning author and curator, Officer of the Order of Canada, and Professor Emeritus of Art History at Florida State University