Books: Argument of Mercy

THE BEGGAR by F. M. Esfandiary. 141 pages. Ivan Obolensky, Inc. $3.95.

For a man brought up in a diplomat's family, Fereidoun Esfandiary is shockingly undiplomatic. His first novel (Day of Sacrifice) made such a telling critique of social and political conditions in modern Iran that in recent years the author has "found it inadvisable to live in Iran." His second book is a ferocious satire that attacks a fundamental assumption of civilization: the concept of justice. Composed in remarkably stylish English, The Beggar presents in an appalling parable the ancient argument of mercy: that one man's guilt is shared by...

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