'Pomegranate Soup' author Marsha Mehran dead at 36

"Pomegranate Soup" was based partly on Marsha Mehran's family's experiences

Marsha Mehran, author of the international bestselling novel "Pomegranate Soup," was found dead in her home in Ireland on Wednesday. Officials say there is nothing suspicious about the death of the 36-year-old; toxicology reports are pending.

Mehran was born in Iran; her family left during the 1979 revolution, when she was just a baby. She then lived in Argentina, the U.S., Australia and Ireland, NPR reports. She had been married to an Irishman native to County Mayo where she was found, but they were divorced.

"Pomegranate Soup" was based partly on her own family's experiences, inspired by a family she saw in Ireland.

"I was living in Ireland in 1999 with my husband, who is Irish. 'Multiculturalism' wasn’t even in the vernacular; I was one of only a handful of 'foreigners' living in County Mayo," she wrote in a Q&A for Random House, her publisher. "During this time I met a Middle Eastern family that ran a deli outside of Castlebar. They sold cans of chickpeas, tahini, and Mediterranean condiments, which are common in supermarkets today, but were a rarity back then. This Lebanese family reminded me of my own parents, who had escaped the Islamic Revolution in Iran and moved to Argentina, where they opened a Middle Eastern eatery. They carried the same haunted, lonely look on their faces that my mother and father had, as they struggled to build a life in a country so vastly different from their homeland."

Nearly two years later, Mehran was in New York, working on the book, her first novel. "It dawned on me that something was missing from my story -- a sense of joy. A happiness and vitality that is particular to Iranians, to Persian culture itself. I wanted to express the beauty of my birthplace; a vision I knew was incongruous with the dark, violent images Westerners see when they think of Iran. Above all, I wanted readers to smell and taste one of Iran’s greatest contributions to the world: its delicate, perfumed cuisine. Somehow, all these memories and emotions came together as I began to write Pomegranate Soup."

The novel, which included recipes, was an international bestseller and a Celestial Seasonings Book Club pick.

She followed the book with a sequel, "Rosewater and Soda Bread." NPR reports that a third book in the series, "Pistachio Rain," was slated to be published this year, along with a free-standing novel titled "The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty."

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