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The Hubris of an Empty Hand by Mahyar A. Amouzegar

This is a deeply philosophical work which brings together the age-old trope of blending mythology and humanity with often complex and at times disastrous outcomes.

The Hubris of an Empty Hand is more of a collection of 8 short stories which are interlinked and comprise a whole host of characters - sometimes a bit too many in the cognitive load department meaning checking back on occasion to establish who is who may be required - who struggle to come to terms with a range of powers that are gifted by the gods to be used when most needed.

The opening of the novel is wonderfully written with some sublime passages that bring in friendship and loss (among many other deeply felt emotions) through the experiences of the central characters. However, as the stories went on they languished in their resonance. At times being a little repetitive with their descriptions or their responses to certain elements.

The interweaving of the stories was helpful in creating an attempted overarching premise to the collection, but often left a feeling of disconnect in each - when read in isolation. One may do better to read multiple in a single sitting rather than the traditional one story one sitting that many readers are, perhaps, more used to.

Originally from Tehran, Amouzegar is now a resident of New Orleans, but the majesty of the language associated with the Middle East shines through in the prose.

Perhaps a little disappointing was the use of dialogue throughout. At times feeling a little stilted and lacking the originality of the vivid descriptions in the imagery. For example, the deep beauty of the imagery in “A Long, Ornate Dinner Table” describes a feast of food that is simply sublime. However, the dialogue feels insecure and lacks realism.

Overall, while the premise of the gods and humans working together often draws interest and deeply felt connections with the spiritual world, this one doesn’t quite hit the mark with the overall impression.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

University of New Orleans Press


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