Hard Cover eBook


PAGES: 304


ISBN: 978-1-61620-585-0

LIST PRICE: $25.95


ISBN: 978-1-61620-712-0

LIST PRICE: $25.95

“A glorious treat awaits you at the literary table of Donia Bijan.” —Adriana Trigiani

Set against the backdrop of Iran’s rich, turbulent history, this exquisite debut novel is a powerful story of food, family, and a bittersweet homecoming. When we first meet Noor, she is living in San Francisco, missing her beloved father, Zod, in Iran. Now, dragging her stubborn teenage daughter, Lily, with her, she returns to Tehran and to Café Leila, the restaurant her family has been running for three generations. Iran may have changed, but Café Leila, still run by Zod, has stayed blessedly the same—it is a refuge of laughter and solace for its makeshift family of staff and regulars.

As Noor revisits her Persian childhood, she must rethink who she is—a mother, a daughter, a woman estranged from her marriage and from her life in California. And together, she and Lily get swept up in the beauty and brutality of Tehran.

Bijan’s vivid, layered story, at once tender and elegant, funny and sad, weaves together the complexities of history, domesticity, and loyalty and, best of all, transports readers to another culture, another time, and another emotional landscape.


“A glorious treat awaits you at the literary table of Donia Bijan. This debut novel has it all, a compelling story of family, faith and love told with a longing heart and an appetite for life beyond the small Iranian village where Noor's roots are planted and her wings were born. This intergenerational story, of a mother and her daughter, dramatized in the moment where it lives is a feast for the reader’s senses and soul. What a stunning novel! Inspiring, evocative and emotionally satisfying.” —Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of The Shoemaker's Wife

“This lyrical debut novel, an immigrant saga and coming-of-age story, provides a tantalizing look at Iran pre- and post-revolution. Poignant and absorbing, the book explores the pull not only of family, but of the place we first call home.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Bijan has crafted a richly layered story of the deep connections within a family, resilient links that survive tragedy and distance.” —Booklist

Meet the Author

Donia Bijan is a San Francisco Bay Area chef who left Iran in 1978 during the Islamic Revolution that threatened the life of her mother, an outspoken women’s rights advocate.

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Donia went to Paris to attend the Cordon Bleu. Determined to pursue a culinary career, she secured apprenticeships in France’s three-star kitchens before returning to San Francisco to preside over many of the city’s acclaimed restaurants. At twenty-seven she became the executive chef of The Sherman House, the esteemed luxury hotel, where she earned awards for her French inspired cuisine. In 1994, she realized her dream of opening her own restaurant, L’Amie Donia, a celebrated French bistro in Palo Alto, California.

Since closing her restaurant, Ms. Bijan has divided her days between writing and teaching. Her memoir, Maman’s Homesick Pie, published in 2011 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, reimagines her passion for cooking as a vessel to travel back and forth between the kitchens of her childhood and the formal kitchens of her training, illuminating the experience of exile, and drawing from her Persian, French, and American pantry to thread ties between cultures. Her debut novel, Café Leila, the story of a daughter’s return to her childhood home, will be released in 2017.

Ms. Bijan lives in Northern California with her husband, the painter Mitchell Johnson, and their son.