We Heard the Heavens Then

A Memoir of Iran

We Heard the Heavens Then

A piercing look at revolution through the wide-open eyes of a child, this is the true story of an extraordinary father/son relationship imperiled by Iran’s ominous and drastically changing political climate.

Aria Minu-Sepehr was raised in a sheltered world of extraordinary privilege as the son of a major general in the Shah’s Imperial Iranian Air Force. The 1970s were the end result of half a century of Westernization in Iran, and Aria’s father was the man of the hour. But when the Shah was overthrown and the Ayatollah rose to power in 1979, Aria’s idyllic life skidded to a halt. The surreal began to invade the mundane, pictures of executed family friends soon covered the newspaper, and ten-year-old Aria was thrust into the terrorized world of adults. In this critically acclaimed and deeply moving memoir, Minu-Sepehr takes us into the heart of the revolution when a boy’s hero, once held up as the nation’s pride, became a hunted man.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451652192 | 
  • April 2013
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A Memoir of Iran

Aria Minu-Sepehr recalls bittersweet memories from his childhood growing up in Iran.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for We Heard the Heavens Then includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Aria Minu-Sepehr. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


We Heard The Heavens Then is a story of two people: a young Aria Minu-Sepehr – son of a famous General and innocent witness to the violent 1979 Iranian Revolution – and the adult Aria – an author and academic forced to appraise his quick childhood with a measured eye. By turns a lyrical, comical, and horrific memoir, Aria recounts what it was like coming of age in a rapidly Middle Eastern World and what it took to weather the storm and continue to believe in a better future for himself, his family, and his beloved, imperiled father.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1.After reading this memoir, how do you interpret the Iranian-Islamic revolution against the shah and the current political climate in Iran? Has the book provided a new outlook into an ongoing world struggle?

2.Discuss Bubbi’s role in Aria’s ever-changing household. Do you think she resented Aria’s family as much as she sometimes let on? What about her occasional revers see more

About the Author

Aria Minu-Sepehr
Photograph by Ava Minu-Sepehr

Aria Minu-Sepehr

Aria Minu-Sepehr moved with his family to the United States following the fall of the shah of Iran in 1979. He is an adjunct professor of English, founder of the Forum for Middle East Awareness, and a public lecturer in fields related to Iran and the Middle East. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two daughters.