Posts Tagged ‘sheikhs’

Press Release: Saved by Beauty by Roger Housden

May 20th, 2011


 Contact: Rachel Rokicki











From the bustle of modern Tehran to the gardens of Shiraz to spectacular mosques and ancient palaces of Isfahan, this is the breathtaking true-story of one man’s deeply personal journey into the heart of Iran.



Adventures of an American Romantic in Iran

By Roger Housden

*Author of the best-selling Ten Poems series*

“Both readers new to Housden and fans of his poetry will treasure this memorable account of what may be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Even better, his insights are also sure to inform and maybe even re-form preconceived notions many hold about Iran.  It is impossible not to lose oneself in Housden’s many-faceted narrative.”

Booklist (Starred Review)


“A lyrical panorama of contemporary Persian politics and culture, this book gives contour and nuance to our idea of Iran, and introduces us to complex, very memorable characters—from the artists who refuse to live elsewhere, despite governmental limitations, to the poetry-quoting intelligence agents who threaten the author with prison.”

—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)


The eloquent account of a Western poet’s encounters with the land, culture and people of Iran…soulful and uplifting.”

—Kirkus Reviews


“This book is a pilgrimage, a prayer, a heartfelt reminder, a poet-traveler’s window into the eternal soul of Iran.”

—Jack Kornfield 


In early 2009 Roger Housden traveled extensively throughout Iran in search of the human face of an ancient culture that has been branded part of the “axis of evil.” The result is his eye-opening new book, Saved by Beauty: Adventures of an American Romantic in Iran (Broadway Books; May 17, 2011). Housden illuminates this complex country and its people by meeting with creative individuals, from sheikhs and philosophers, to artists, poets, and political analysts. Along the way, he himself is changed by the beauty, the depth, and also the sorrow of this misunderstood culture.

Forty years ago, Housden discovered the poetry of Rumi and Hafez, read tales of exotic Sufis, and was carried away by the music and wisdom of a culture that reached back over three thousand years, a culture that gave us our word for paradise. Longing to see if the Iran of his imagination continued to exist, or whether it had been lost forever in the revolutionary zeal of the last thirty years, Housden sets off on a journey to discover a country filled with remarkable contradictions. He leads us into the mountains of Kurdistan to join the Sufis in their ceremonies, then on to the fabled cities of Isfahan and Shiraz, introducing a cast of Iranians ranging from famous artists and filmmakers to politicians, sheikhs, and religious leaders, to waiters, shopkeepers, and students. Housden shows us a place rich with history, delicious foods, intricate architecture, and breathtaking music and poetry. 


SAVED BY BEAUTY also examines the dynamics and myths of this exotic land. Housden explains that in an overwhelmingly young nation—seventy percent of Iran’s population is under twenty-five—use of the worldwide web and of plastic surgeons is as common as in New York, and yet simultaneously, there is also a deep national pride in the country’s art, traditions, and historical achievements. Housden takes the work of Rumi, the poet, as his guide for the journey, and in a country where everyone still knows some of his lines by heart, the twelfth-century sage helps Housden better appreciate the longings and aspirations of Iran’s people and culture. When Housden’s return home hangs in the balance due to his interrogation by the Iranian security services, who give him the choice of five years in Evin Prison or becoming one of their agents in the United States, Rumi’s words become not only a source of comfort but also a point of common ground with his captors. Housden, brought face to face with the reality that beauty and truth, deceit and violence, are inextricably mingled in the affairs of human life, was forever changed. 

A richly textured story of many threads, SAVED BY BEAUTY is a pilgrimage, a prayer, a heartfelt reminder, a poet-traveler’s window into the eternal soul of Iran.


ROGER HOUSDEN is the author of twenty books, including the best-selling Ten Poems series and the novella Chasing Rumi.  English by birth, he has been a writer for the Guardian and an interviewer for the BBC. Housden emigrated to the U.S. in 1998 and now lives in the Bay Area.  Visit:



Adventures of an American Romantic in Iran

Author: Roger Housden

Publisher: Broadway Books; Publication Date: May 17, 2011
Hardcover; 320 pages; Price: $24.00; ISBN-13:


For more information about SAVED BY BEAUTY or to schedule an interview with Roger Housden please contact

Rachel Rokicki at 212-782-8455 or

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The Crown Publishing Group