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A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea Audiobook, by Dina Nayeri Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Dina Nayeri Narrator: Sneha Mathan Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2013 ISBN: 9781483061092
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (274 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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Spellbinding in its narration, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is the story of an Iranian girl who, separated from her mother and twin sister during the turmoil following the Iranian Revolution, invents a rich, imaginative world in which they live.

Growing up in a small fishing village in 1980s Iran, eleven-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister Mahtab are fascinated by America. They keep lists of English vocabulary words and collect contraband copies of Life magazine and Beatles cassettes. So when Saba suddenly finds herself abandoned, alone with her father in Iran, she is certain that her mother and sister have moved to America without her. Bereft, she aches for their company, and for the Western life she believes she is being denied. All her life she had been taught that “fate is in the blood,” which must mean that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea. Thus, over the next several years, as Saba falls in and out of love and struggles with the limited possibilities available to her as a woman in Iran, she imagines a simultaneous, parallel life, a Western version, for her sister. But where Saba’s story has all the grit and brutality of real life in postrevolutionary Iran, her sister’s life—as Saba envisions it—gives her a freedom and control that Saba can only dream of.

Filled with a colorful cast of characters, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is told in a bewitching voice that mingles the rhythms of Eastern storytelling with straightforward Western prose and tells a story about the importance of controlling your own fate.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Charming and engrossing, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is a vivid and evocative story about the places we love, the places we long for—and the places we can only imagine.”

    Karen Thompson Walker, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Narrator Sneha Mathan uses subtle tones and a soft voice to take listeners into the emotional world of the protagonist…The story is told with a poetic undercurrent of emotion, and the listener will be moved.”


  • “This is a very revealing story of what it was really like to live as a young woman in Iran in the 1980s, a tumultuous time, and what it is like perhaps, even now…Sneha Mathan reads with a convincing accent, taking Saba from her youth to young adulthood; she also uses her voice effectively to show how different her sister’s life in America is.”

  • “This ambitious novel set in northern Iran in the decade after the 1979 revolution contains not a teaspoon but a ton of history, imagination, and longing.

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Embracing and embraceable culturally far-reaching fiction.”

    Library Journal

  • “Elegant aspirational novel of life in postrevolutionary Iran…Lyrical, humane, and hopeful; a welcome view of the complexities of small-town life, in this case in a place that inspires fear instead of sympathy.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is pure magic: lyrical, captivating, funny, and heartbreaking. Entering the world of the intriguing Saba Hafezi and her friends in a seaside village in northern Iran, I lost my heart.”

    Jean Kwok, author of the national bestseller Girl in Translation

  • “Captivating. It reminds us how storytelling can save our lives. A brilliant debut.”

    Michelle Huneven, author of Blame

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlie | 2/20/2014

    " A heartbreaking and triumphant story of love, loss, courage, chasing and letting go of dreams, storytelling, friendship, Iran...transportive and mesmerizing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen | 2/14/2014

    " I had trouble getting into this one at first but ultimately I thought it was good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 2/11/2014

    " I received this book from the Library Thing early reviewers program. This is just the sort of book that I would expect to absolutely love. Set in Iran in the 1980's, it is about a twin who loses her mother and sister, and is grappling with having been raised to be open-minded even though she is stuck in the restrictive Iranian culture. This book is beautifully written and absolutely transports you into the world of 1980's Iran. It was an easy but rich read and the author is obviously extremely talented. Honestly, I can't quite put my finger on why I didn't enjoy it. Possibly it is just my own intense reaction to the paternalistic culture of Iran, but also it could be that I just didn't like the characters. It annoyed me that Saba kept insisting that her sister was alive, even though from the first pages (this isn't a spoiler) it's pretty clear that she's not. It was an inventive way for her to live out her fantasies, though, so it's a clever literary tool. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that you should probably read this one for yourself and be the judge. I can't tell you my resistance, but it does have all the makings of a fine novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tessa | 2/7/2014

    " I couldn't get past the writing which was constantly heavy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danica | 1/18/2014

    " I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction and/or is into 80's music....which is me!!! What struck me was how recent the history of the Iranian revolution and how we really weren't educated about this in school. The main character, Saba, is unhappy as a traditional Iranian woman after the revolution because she remembers before when women were not so covered and oppressed. She imagines her life in America through imagining her twin live a parallel life to hers there. She loves American music and tv and imagines life in America to be composed of 22.5 minute episodes where everything is resolved in that time. Loved the language, setting and time period. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy | 1/17/2014

    " It took me a little while to get into this book. It was more interesting once Saba became a teenager. Books taking place in foreign countries always make me appreciate the United States even more! We are so lucky to have the freedoms we do. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy | 1/13/2014

    " I started this book confident that I would love it, and my "book gut" is never wrong....until now. Even once I realized it wasn't for me I kept reading, hoping something would happen that would bring me in. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and I gave up. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pamela | 1/3/2014

    " I'm not so great with reviews, but I really enjoyed this book. I like cultural novels -- I'd say fans of Khaled Hosseini would enjoy this, although it is not as violent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shari | 12/27/2013

    " Heart-wrenching! is all I can say. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jackie | 12/25/2013

    " Story of a girl growing up during and after the 1997 Iran revolution. Story telling is an important part of the culture in her village. It also helps her survive several difficult events. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/12/2013

    " I am torn on this book. Parts of it were so lyrical and I liked how Saba used Mahtab's stories to help her deal with issues in her own life. But, at times the story seemed to stall. I wanted to love it, but in the end I was hurrying to finish it, so I could move on to something else. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michele | 12/10/2013

    " Good book but had to push myself through it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Martha | 10/31/2013

    " Beautiful and captivating storytelling, this book immerses you in the sights, smells, and colors of pastoral Iranian life. Poignant and moving, funny and hopeful. The characters sweep you up in their stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Astrid | 9/1/2013

    " Can't wait for another by this author "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Heidi | 8/23/2013

    " I really wanted to like this book, as it is beautifully written, but as hard as I tried, I couldn't get into it. I may give it another go later, but for now - abandoned :( "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carla | 5/24/2013

    " Beautifully written. A rich read. However I found it a bit draggy. The story telling in the book was a bit confusing to follow, but it definitely allowed the reader to transport to another world. "

About the Author

Dina Nayeri is the author of Refuge and A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, which was translated into fourteen foreign languages. A graduate of Princeton, Harvard, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the O. Henry Prize, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Bogliasco Foundation, and several other artist residencies.

About the Narrator

Sneha Mathan spent a peripatetic childhood in India, punctuated by a short spell in the Seychelles. Now fixedly based in Seattle, she works as a voice actor and audiobook narrator. Her audiobook work has received four Earphones Awards, and she is a two-time finalist for the Audie Award.