Curator Ali Bakhtiari Recommends

Of the youngest prolific Iranian curators, Ali Bakhtiari was born in 1985, Tehran. He started his career as a curator in 2008 with a retrospective of Faramarz Pilaram at Gallery 66 in Tehran. He has curated numerous exhibitions at renowned spaces worldwide such as Saatchi Gallery, London, Salsali Private Museum, Dubai, ShirinNY, New York and Lawrie Shabibi Gallery, Dubai. Bakhtiari currently runs an independent art project called ABBookness which focuses on the production of art books. He is currently involved in “IRAN:RPM”, a promising research project on Persian discography he initiated almost a decade ago, the first volume of which was published in 2012. IRAN:RPM VOL II will be launched march 2014 and its a retrospective study on the IIDCYA (Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults). His latest project has been an exhibition of posters and paintings by Assurbannipal Babila last November in Tehran. As a researcher and curator, Bakhtiari has a unique and somehow different standpoint towards Iranian contemporary fiction – a good reason to go through his fine choices:

PARSAGON  What are the top seven works of world literature that have had the deepest influence on your life and career?

BAKHTIARI  My favorite texts are:

  1. Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte
  2. Querelle de Brest (Querelle of Brest) by Jean Genet
  3. Anna Karenina By Leo Tolstoy
  4. Eugenie Grandet By Honore de Balzac
  5. Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille
  6. Against Interpretation by Sussan Sontag
  7. My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

PARSAGON What seven works of contemporary Persian literature would you recommend for translation or more attention?

BAKHTIARI  I’d recommend these works, tough tough choices to make!

  1. Funeral Prayer – Reza Daneshvar
  2. Nameless Traceless Fears – Gholamhossein Sa’edi
  3. The Tide & The Fog – Ebrahim Golestan
  4. First Night, Second Night – Bahman Forsi
  5. Men in Chains – Amir Golara
  6. Yakolia and Her Loneliness – Taghi Modaresi
  7. Monarch of the Brave – Reza Daneshvar


The Tide & The Fog (1969) 

Ebrahim Golestan’s The Tide & The Fog contains three short stories: “Relating of the Time Past,” “In an Airport’s Bar”, and “The Tide & The Fog”, the latter of which is regarded Golestan’s best piece to the consensus of the critics.

Monarch of the Brave [French: Le Brave Des Braves] 

A noteworthy Iranian novel to challenge the structure of Iranian myths, Rreza Daneshvar’s Monarch of the Brave takes a journey back in time, religion and history to seek the roots of the present situation of Iranian social and personal lives. Khosrow Khuban [literally meaning the monarch of the brave] is a mythic and mysterious character who was born in Hamoun Lake following his mother’s bathing in the river…

First Night, Second Night [1974]

An epistolary romantic novel by Bahman Forsi, First Night, Second Night is mainly narrated through letters exchanged between an Iranian intellectual and a bourgeois girl – a designer whose masterpiece is a special set of dresses tailored for prostitutes called ‘First Night, Second Night’. Suppressed desire in the novel manifests itself in the form of revolt against all moral, social and cultural institutions of society.

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