I.J. Sarfeh - Medical Fiction

A Surgeon's New Career

After devoting thirty years to surgery, all of them at universities, I needed a rest and a change. Practicing medicine was gratifying, but it deprived me of life experiences outside hospitals and clinics and operating rooms. Write, my children said, because you’re a great story maker-upper. So I made up stories and published them. The first six were medical fiction, in the thriller or mystery or suspense genre with emphasis on surgeons whose characters are shaped by their profession.The next two, which were published by Tell-Tale Publishing Group, are of the literary fiction genre. They are stories in which I drew on my experiences not only as a surgeon, but as an Iranian who lived in foreign countries for most of his life and who as a youngster suffered the barbs of prejudice.

My latest novels

From the Ashes of Strife is the tale of an Iranian family’s journey from the chaos of revolution in their homeland to the challenges facing them as émigrés in America, at a time when anti-Iranian sentiment is pervasive. Set in both countries, the 70,000-word novel follows the struggles of the family: Rostam Vessali, a former general, now an embittered exile; his spouse Shireen, a woman sickened by the anti-feminism of Iranian culture; their son Sohrab, a confused youth, an outcast seeking his identity in a foreign land. Father and son flounder, Rostam because he feels no longer relevant, Sohrab because he feels like an outcast. And in floundering, they become estranged from one another. Contrary to Rostam and Sohrab, Shireen thrives as she quickly assimilates into the new culture. How the three resolve their personal crises is the theme of the plot, which explores the Iran-America conflict through the eyes of a family caught in the crossfire of the Islamic Revolution.

Beyond the Third Garden is the tale of a middle-aged woman and a ten-year-old orphan: both Iranian, both shattered souls running away from horrific events in their past. She chances upon the starving, shivering boy in a rain-drenched forest at the foothills of the Alborz Mountains, and the remarkable, often stormy relationship begins. My 80,000-word, professionally edited work of literary fiction ends in a stunning climax that reveals the secrets of their repressed memories. The resolution clears the way for the woman and orphan to seal their bond, to help each other mend their devastated lives. Set in 1950s Iran and western England, Beyond the Third Garden explores the devastating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder in an intolerant era when PTSD was variously labeled and dismissed as behavioral disturbance in children, neurosis in adults, and battle fatigue in soldiers.