Book Review: Martyr!

By Kaveh Akbar
Review by Josh

Martyr! is centred around the life of Cyrus Shams, an Iranian American in active recovery from addiction who can’t stop thinking about death and the divine. For those familiar with Akbar’s poetry, these subjects are ones he’s written about a lot, but with this debut novel he continues to find new angles and approaches to these topics. Kaveh writes with such beauty and curiosity, even when covering heavy subjects.

Cyrus is such a lovable and engaging character, even in the throes of his addiction and subsequent recovery, his view of the world and all it contains is a delight for the reader. The narrative moves its way around Cyrus’s life through chapters told from both his mother’s and father’s perspectives, which works well to contextualise and further explain Cyrus and his actions. Akbar is a masterful poet and Martyr! shows he’s also an exceptional prose writer.

For fans of his poetry collection Calling a Wolf a Wolf, Glorious Exploits by Ferdia Lennon, and Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.

You can listen to Josh’s review from RDU below: