Searching for Hassan: A Journey to the Heart of Iran

This travelogue and memoir (368 pages) was published in March of 2020 by Tiller Press. The book takes you to Iran. David read Searching for Hassan and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.

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Searching for Hassan

A Journey to the Heart of Iran

Terence Ward

This is the romantic and poignant story of one man’s quest to find a cherished family friend in Iran. It’s a travelogue, a celebration of Persian culture, an exploration of history, and a deeply personal journey.

Author Terence Ward and his brothers grew up in 1960s Tehran under the watchful eye of Hassan, the family’s housekeeper, cook, and ‘Persian father,’ their unofficial and much-admired guide to all things Iranian.

When the family left Iran for the United States, they lost touch with Hassan. Thirty years later, Ward’s family sets out on a quest through modern Iran to reconnect with the country they love and the dear friend that was left behind.

With no phone number or address for Hassan, their only talisman is a small black-and-white photo of the man taken decades ago. Will this scant evidence and their committed hope be enough to reunite them?

The journey takes them from Shiraz and the ruins of Persepolis in the south, through the interior mountains and Yazd, and finally on to Tehran and the settlements of the north. Along the way, they revisit favorite destinations and show us the reality of life in the Middle East: decades of strife, commitment to family, deep love for country, and daily celebration of culture.

It’s both an adventure tale and a familial love story that addresses just how far we must go for our friends.

Terence Ward comes by his knowledge of the area first-hand: He grew up in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt, worked with Middle East Industrial Relations Counselors, and is a member of the Middle Eastern Institute. But his gift to us is his flair for storytelling, his ability to transport us to the broad sky and soaring statues of Persepolis, or the intimate kitchen of his family home with Hassan wielding a spoon and spinning a tale.

I remember a brisk evening long ago. Fires glow red across the city’s roofline. Explosions of firecrackers break the spring silence. It is March 1963, the last Tuesday night before Nowruz, the Iranian New Year… Celebrations start at twilight. Hassan, our housekeeper, our cook, our young ‘Persian father,’ emerges from the shadows, swaying a glowing Coleman lantern and twitching his proud mustache. With the physique of a gymnast, he moves fluidly. His strong chin juts out with dramatic effect. He strides toward us, eyes flickering under the streetlamps. He bears the quiet nobility of an actor taking the stage. — Terence Ward

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This traditional rice dish is a feast for the eyes, glistening with spice-infused butter and gem-colored fruits. It's a celebration of hope and life and family, a delicious way to bring a taste of Persia to your table.
Iran, formerly known as Persia, has an ancient, turbulent history and a fascinating present. In this episode, we get curious about the culture (food! poetry! storytelling!) and explore the impact of the 1979 Revolution.

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