Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Medusa of the Roses

by Navid Sinaki

Sex, vengeance, and betrayal in modern day Tehran—Navid Sinaki’s bold and cinematic debut is a queer literary noir following Anjir, a morbid romantic and petty thief whose boyfriend disappears just as they’re planning to leave their hometown for good

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 240
  • Publication Date August 13, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6303-5
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $27.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date August 13, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6304-2
  • US List Price $27.00

Anjir and Zal are childhood best friends turned adults in love. The only problem is they live in Iran, where being openly gay is criminalized, and the government’s apparent acceptance of trans people requires them to surgically transition and pass as cis straight people. When Zal is brutally attacked after being seen with another man in public, despite the betrayal, Anjir becomes even more determined to carry out their longstanding plan for the future: Anjir, who’s always identified with the mythical gender-changing Tiresias, will become a woman, and they’ll move to a new town for a fresh start as husband and wife.

Then Zal vanishes, leaving a cryptic note behind that sets Anjir on a quest to find the other man, hoping he will lead to Zal.  Stalking and stealing his way through the streets, clubs, library stacks, hotel rooms, and museum halls of Tehran—where he encounters his troubled mother, addict brother, and the dynamic Leyli, a new friend who is undergoing a transition of her own—Anjir soon realizes that someone is tailing him too. It quickly becomes clear that more violence may be the fastest route to freedom, as Anjir’s morals and gender identity are pushed to new places in the pursuit of love, peace, and self-determination.

Steeped in ancient Persian and Greek myths, and brimming with poetic vulnerability, subversive bite, and noirish grit, Medusa of the Roses is a page-turning wallop of a story from a bright new literary talent.

Praise for Medusa of the Roses:

“Video artist Sinaki’s stunning debut follows two gay lovers struggling to survive in modern-day Tehran. In alternately gritty and sensual prose, Sinaki perfectly captures Anjir’s morbid state of mind and his inability to separate love from pain. The narrative teems with references to Greek mythology, Persian folktales, and Old Hollywood as Sinaki considers the psychological toll that living under an ever-present threat of death can take. This is a must.”Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Sinaki’s prose is dense with sensory detail and mythological allusions . . . [a] memorable descent into love and betrayal in queer Tehran.”—Kirkus Reviews

“It’s a gritty tale woven in with ancient Persian and Greek myths, fused into a debut novel so good you’ll skip all your summer days’ plans.”Fleurine Tideman, Betches

“Navid Sinaki’s writing is really, really something. Reading Medusa of the Roses not only pleasures through its chaseable story and meticulously tuned characters, it offers the non-stop bedazzlement of some of the most intoxicating and yet exacting prose I’ve read in ages. It’s a rush of a novel, and honestly kind of perfect.”—Dennis Cooper, author of I Wished

“Very rarely does a book come along that you feel might save lives, including your own. In giving voice to the ultimate voiceless in Iran, Sinaki has written a witty and wild tale truly for the best of our beloved angels and devils. He has taken our shared cultures and done something none of us Iranian writers have managed: he gets to the heart of the damaged and damaging politics of our homeland by turning despair into art that’s so invigorating and thrilling, we quite nearly have a new genre. Medusa of the Roses is the most dynamic literary debut, certainly of the Iranian queer canon, I have ever read!”—Porochista Khakpour, author Sons & Other Flammable Objects and Tehrangeles

“Navid Sinaki flips noir on its head in this propulsive, twisting novel about creating identity against formative love in an oppressive society. Sexy, raw, and perfectly paced, Medusa of the Roses will get under your skin.”—Julia Fine, author of Maddalena and the Dark

Medusa of the Roses is a beautiful, fast-paced melodrama, a campy, queer reimagining of mid-century noir set in Iran, bloody and poetic in equal measure.”—Kyle Dillon Hertz, author of The Lookback Window

“Feverish and atmospheric, Sinaki’s writing captures with great precision the visceral torment of love and all the havoc it wreaks. Anjir is a brooding, rueful narrator-cum-protagonist whose haunting, and at times knowingly camp, plight bursts forth from the page with cinematic bite.”—Andrés N. Ordorica, author of How We Named the Stars

Author Tour Dates



Los Angeles, CA

In conversation with TBD
1818 North Vermont Avenue
7:00 PM


New York, NY

In conversation with Porochista Khakpour
4 Fulton Street
6:00 PM


New York, NY

Film Screenings with author intro: Funeral Parade of Roses (Matsumoto, 1969) and Pink Narcissus (Bidgood, 1971)
August 23-25
32 Second Avenue
Time TK


Seattle, WA

Co-presented by Elliott Bay Book Company
Film Screening with author intro: Querelle (Fassbinder, 1982)
August 30- September 1
1515 12th Avenue
Time TK


Austin, TX

co-presented by Alienated Majesty
Screening and post-film discussion with AFS Associate Programmer Jazmyne Moreno
1143 Northwestern Avenue


San Francisco, CA

With Caro DeRobertis
1585 Folsom St
Time TK