As an editor, I’m often asked to quickly summarize my authors’ books, to boil a premise down to only a sentence or two. But with Gian Sardar’s Take What You Can Carry, no matter how practiced I am, it’s simply an impossible task. This stunningly beautiful, exquisitely human story is far too layered to possibly capture its essence in that way.
This powerful novel is inspired by Sardar’s father’s childhood and by a family trip to Kurdistan that took place in 1979. Though fictionalized, the author pulled from true events to tell an important story that, despite being set in the past, resonates strongly today. It’s the story of an aspiring photojournalist, in a time when women had very few opportunities, who wants only to be taken seriously but doesn’t understand the price at which that recognition will come. And it’s a story of love tested. At times heartbreaking and at other times inspiring and uplifting, this novel is sure to elicit all of the feels. There may be moments of tears and sorrow, but there is also overwhelming hope and a powerful sense of connection.
At its heart, Take What You Can Carry is a love story. Romantic love, yes, but also self-love, familial love, love of a culture, of a country, of a people. Love of nature and beauty and art and compassion. Love of life and of love itself. So if you need a little more love in your life, I highly recommend you join Gian Sardar on this journey of discovery. It may not be an easy one, but it is most certainly worthwhile.
— Alicia Clancy, Editor