Today is publication day for Only this Beautiful Moment, by Abdi Nazemian. I was privileged to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review through NetGalley. I reviewed Nazemian’s 2019 Like A Love Story earlier this year.
I loved this book! We meet Moud, and his father, Saeed, who live in Los Angeles in 2019. Moud is gay and out, with a boyfriend, and his father had moved from Iran to L.A. when he was in his early 20s during the upheaval in the late 1970s. Moud’s mother passed away and he and his father don’t talk much. There is also a historical storyline from the 1930s with a young boy in the golden age of Hollywood named Bobby, whose mother is intent on making him a star, and we’re not quite sure at the beginning how he fits with the current-day story. But he’s also queer, and has to navigate the studio’s policies against “unnatural” activities. I loved how Nazemian wove these stories together.
Moud’s grandfather is in Iran, and is ill, and Moud and his father need to visit to see him before he dies. But how can Moud be out and queer and go to visit a country where being queer is illegal?
Nazemian has made all of the characters, from Moud to his father and his grandfather, and the people they interacted with, unique. Each time and place he described was alive and different.
We need more books like this, telling queer history. We need the stories of queer people set in places where we are not supposed to exist, because we do exist and will always exist. Nazemian has rocketed to the top of my “will always read anything he writes” list.
Bonus: Nazemian created a fat and fabulous character without explicitly describing her body or descending into anti-fat bias, when he has the character say “You think it’s easy being a fat girl in Iran?” He has clearly been educated in how to avoid diet culture and anti-fatness, and I very much appreciate that. (But I should have expected it from the author who created the fabulous, fat character of Judy in Like a Love Story.)