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A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea

Literary Fiction   Debuts of the Month   Family Drama   
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April 2013 Debut of the Month and eBook of the Month.

If you loved A Thousand Splendid Suns, you'll sink into this spellbinding story of an Iranian girl who, separated from her mother and twin sister during the turmoil following the revolution, invents a rich, imaginative world in which they live on.

reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'I quickly found myself becoming enthralled in it...It is a remarkable book, beautifully written and I highly recommend it.' Scroll down to read more reviews.


A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

Growing up in a small fishing village in 1980s Iran, 11-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister Mahtab are fascinated by America. They keep lists of English vocabulary words and collect contraband copies of Life magazine and Bob Dylan cassettes. So when Saba suddenly finds herself abandoned, alone with her father in Iran, she is certain that her mother and twin have moved to America without her. Bereft, she aches for her lost mother and sister, and for the Western life she believes she is being denied. All her life Saba has been taught that 'fate is in the blood,' which must mean that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea. Thus, as time passes and Saba falls in and out of love and struggles with the limited possibilities available to her as a woman in Iran, she imagines a simultaneous, parallel life - a Western version, for her sister. But where Saba's story has all the grit and brutality of real life in post-revolutionary Iran, her sister's life - as Saba envisions it - gives her a freedom and control that Saba can only dream of. Filled with a colourful cast of characters, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is told in a bewitching voice that mingles the rhythms of Eastern storytelling with straightforward Western prose to form a wholly original story about the importance of controlling your own fate.


We have asked a select number of members and browsers to review A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea. You can read their reviews below.

Phylippa Smithson - 'From the very first word ‘A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea’ will have you hooked...Dina Nayeris’ greatest achievement is to help the reader identify with many of the themes that run through the book, romance, pleasure, family relationships, friendship...Do not hesitate. This is a ‘must read’ book.' Click here to read the full review.

Lisa Redmond - 'This is a wonderfully atmospheric and enchanting piece of storytelling in the tradition of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns...Dina Nayeri has written a strong and richly peopled narrative which readers will find hard to put down.' Click here to read the full review.

Ruth Paterson - 'This beautifully written novel has several themes including growing up, loss, determination and friendship... It is a powerful tale in which the battle to be an individual in a changing world is covered in an imaginative and thought provoking manner.' Click here to read the full review.

Angela Hunt - 'This wonderful book is a window to the Iran of the 1980's and the injustice against women...It is an amazing book, and I can't wait for Dina Nayeri's next book. This one is one I can reread over and over.' Click here to read the full review.

Josie Barton - 'Dina Nayeri has written a narrative of such convincing honesty that only someone who is intimately familiar with this way of life could have written with spellbinding accuracy.' Click here to read the full review.

Clare Topping - 'A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea will resonate with many people, wherever they live; it highlights, through beautiful storytelling, the struggle for independence balanced against the expectations of family and society. Highly recommended.' Click here to read the full review.

Lydia Roshanzamir - 'I am so grateful to Dina Nayeri for writing a book about an Iran rarely portrayed in the media...Fans of Khaled Hosseini would enjoy soaking in the fascinating and intricate story of Saba Hafezi and it is definitely a story that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page. ' Click here to read the full review.

Susan Walsh - 'Storytelling at its finest. A tale of love, friendship, family, cruelty and corruption.' Click here to read the full review.

Sam Lewis - 'The book is beautifully and delicately written with such a touching storyline...The tale stays with you long after finishing the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.' Click here to read the full review.

Beverley Davenport - 'A haunting and absorbing book that draws you into a world of dreams and sometimes brutal realities for a young girl, Saba, growing up in a small village in Iran but dreaming of a life in America...Loved it!' Click here to read the full review.

Dawn Lynch - 'Great story, extremely memorable...I couldn't put it down till the end and will definitely be recommending it to others.' Click here to read the full review.

Kath Thornton - 'I found this a very informative, captivating, detailed and interesting book. Click here to read the full review.

Joan Hill - 'This is a wonderful, harrowing story of secrets and half-truths, of disappointment and terror, of courage, determination, endurance and dreams.' Click here to read the full review.

Lynn Curtis - 'Dina Nayeri is a genuinely exciting discovery...The characterisation throughout is notably subtle and well-drawn...Altogether a feast of storytelling, which I highly recommend.' Click here to read the full review.

Suzanne James - 'This beautiful story conjures up an Iran a world away from the country we hear about in the news...It was a story that made me smile but also that made me stop and think. A really beautiful tale.' Click here to read the full review.

Sue Broom - 'I found her depiction of modern Iran fascinating, I fell in love with her Iranian characters and enjoyed her style of writing...A complex novel - I urge you to read it and admire her achievement.' Click here to read the full review.

Judith Cooper - 'Despite my reservations about the size of this book, I quickly found myself becoming enthralled in it...It is a remarkable book, beautifully written and I highly recommend it.' Click here to read the full review.

Lucinda Fountain - 'Beautifully bewitching and profoundly meaningful, this novel touches you deeply with such intensity as to astonish.' Click here to read the full review.

Nikki Clark - 'This is a complex multicultural story which slowly reveals the facts of what happened to Saba’s mother and Mahtab which at times I found to be a bit of an effort to read however it was worth persevering and I was satisfied with the conclusion.' Click here to read the full review.

Joy Bosworth - 'Saba’s father and two friends are quite likeable but the main protagonist is very self centred and, even when facing genuine difficulties it is hard to empathise with her...' Click here to read the full review.

Christine McCormick - 'This is a book about family, friendship and the great strength of the human spirit and, with Saba, its ability to triumph over adversity and achieve what you have long dreamed of.' Click here to read the full review.

About the Author

Dina Nayeri

Dina Nayeri was born in Iran during the revolution and emigrated to Oklahoma at ten years old. She has a BA from Princeton and an MBA and Master of Education from Harvard. She is currently a Truman Capote Fellow and a Teaching Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. For more details go to

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Book Info

Publication date

4th April 2013


Dina Nayeri

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Allen & Unwin


432 pages


Literary Fiction
Debuts of the Month
Family Drama

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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