Presented in partnership with Mystery To Me Books.
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Cyrus Shams is a young man grappling with an inheritance of violence and loss: his mother's plane was shot down over the skies of the Persian Gulf in a senseless accident; and his father's life in America was circumscribed by his work killing chickens at a factory farm in the Midwest. Cyrus is a drunk, an addict, and a poet, whose obsession with martyrs leads him to examine the mysteries of his past—toward an uncle who rode through Iranian battlefields dressed as the angel of death to inspire and comfort the dying, and toward his mother, through a painting discovered in a Brooklyn art gallery that suggests she may not have been who or what she seemed.
Kaveh Akbar's Martyr! is a paean to how we spend our lives seeking meaning—in faith, art, ourselves, others.
In conversation with Michelle Wildgen.
Kaveh Akbar's poems appear in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. He is the author of two poetry collections: Pilgrim Bell and Calling a Wolf a Wolf, in addition to a chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic. He is also the editor of The Penguin Book of Spiritual Verse: 110 Poets on the Divine. He lives in Iowa City.
Michelle Wildgen’s fourth novel will be published by Zibby Books in August 2023. Her first novel, You’re Not You, was adapted into a feature film starring Hilary Swank and Emmy Rossum. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review and Modern Love, O Magazine, RealSimple.com, Best Food Writing, and elsewhere. A former executive editor with the award-winning literary journal Tin House, she is a freelance editor and creative writing teacher in Madison, Wis. Her featured novel is Wine People.