"I went back to Tehran after 25 years to spend the summer with my father, Hanibal Alkhas. I started a diary, originally for my son Behrang, and then just kept adding to it daily. This is the story of a half-breed returning to a country he half grew up in." From Bunanameh by Buna Alkhas

Last Sunday afternoon, the San Francisco Bay Area Iranian community had the rare and pleasant treat of a special book reading. We gathered around playwright, director, and actress Bella Warda, artist Ninva Warda, and director/actor Mansour Taeed and listened to them as they read pages from Bunanameh, the travelogue of Buna Alkhas, son of the extraordinary Iranian painter, the late Hanibal Alkhas. Bella and Ninva are Buna's cousins and Mansour met Buna while he lived in the Bay Area for some time.

Buna took a trip to Iran to visit with his father in the early 2000's, and made his own travel book during his stay. The book is at once funny and endearing and extremely moving. Buna, who was born of an Assyrian Iranian father and an American mother, writes with a limited Farsi, which he taught himself and keeps trying to master (and has successfully improved since the book). He has also wittily illustrated the book himself. The combination of the simplicity of the language and the images, and the potent and complex subjects of longing, belonging, country, nation, people, language, family, and our dreams and nightmares of the past make Buna's book delightful, human, and very interesting.

People who see this book for the first time have a hard time putting it down or handing it back to the person who was reading it before they came along! It's a perfect tribute to Buna's father whom the author describes as kind, loving, generous, and accomplished.  In the process, however, the reader comes away seeing all those qualities in Buna himself.

I think this unusual illustrated book is one of the most unique and special things that have come out of the Iranian community in a long time, and I should congratulate its publishers, Urtext Media, for their vision in picking this gem for publication.  I recommend it as a perfect Christmas or Nowruz gift and a very special gift all-year-round. An electronic English translation of the book is in the works and should be made available very soon.

Here's how to get it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bunanameh-Persian-Edition-Buna-Alkhas/dp/0979057361

View Full-screen Gallery