The year before he was murdered, alongside two members of the rock band the Yellow Dogs, the Iranian-American singer-songwriter Ali Eskandarian wrote to the man he hoped would become his publisher. He was working on a novel about someone like himself, he explained – "immigrant, war child, rock'n'roller, artist trying to live in a modern world he finds infuriating/exhilarating". There was, he promised, "an insurgent political bent to the writing, also lots of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll". And there were "characters very similar to the Yellow Dogs" because he "lived with the Dogs for almost two years and we got to have some fun".
"I think it could be the great Iranian-American novel, or at least that's what I'll call it until someone proves me wrong," he finished.
The killings in New York last November of Eskandarian, 35, and brothers Arash and Soroush Farazmand echoed around the world. Ali Akbar Mahammadi Rafie, a fellow musician whose relationship with the band had "frayed", as the New York Times put it, climbed into their Brooklyn home and shot the men with an assault rifle, before killing himself.
The Yellow Dogs had fled from Tehran to New York in 2010, wanting to be able to play their music freely. In Iran, according to a US state department cable released by Wikileaks, they were part of Tehran's "small but crazy" underground club scene. In the US, they were "building a national following with [their] furiously intense post-punk", in the words of Rolling Stone.
Eskandarian, who lived in the flat above the brothers in East Williamsburg, grew up in Tehran before moving to Dallas with his family as an adolescent. He'd released an album, Nothing to Say, on Wildflower Records, and toured the US with the Yellow Dogs. He was also, it turns out, writing that semi-autobiographical novel, Golden Years.