Birth of Bahram: a memorial

On January 8, 1936, Bahram Sadeqi (Sadeghi) was born in Najaf-Abad. Son of an illiterate man who was in love with books and stories, Bahram soon migrated to Isfahan together with his family in order for his sister (Dr Iran Sadeqi) to pursue her studies – in a time that many Iranian girls were denied proper education.

Bahram started writing at an early age (he published his first story at age 20 and his masterpiece five years later) and although he had become a physician (in an interview he had mentioned his fascination with Russian Literature and especially Chekhov, had he modeled on him or probably a coincidence?), he never took his job seriously. He had a deep sense of humor that is seen in almost all his short stories.

Sadeqi is a purple patch to the body of contemporary Persian literature, but not in a derogatory sense. He was an avid reader of western literature and wrote his favorites in original English, French and Arabic. Graham Greene was his favorite English writer and Detective Literature his eternal fancy as he admired the mastery of suspense in such works. That is why Sadeqi is seen so detached from the literary arena of Iranian literature, and probably why he had very few literary friends as he did not read the works of his peers and looked down on the types of literature written by his contemporaries.

His short stories are about the absurdity and uselessness of urban life. Spiced up with a peerless sense of humor and wit, his stories were avant-garde in form and structure.While a critic has regarded his only published novel ‘Malakut’ as an early practice in Magic Realism, some others have compared it to Sadeq Hedayat’s The Blind Owl in terms of significance.

The Trench and Empty Canteens, his only collection of short stories was published in the 1950s, and that is all one can find in the resume of a bright star that twinkled and faded away. He was never given proper literary attention; this, however, cannot understate his fine craft.

He passed away of heart attack in 1984 in Tehran.

Fortunately Malakut and Other Stories by Bahram Sadeghi is available in English with Kaveh Basmenji’s translation and a foreword by Ehsan Yarshater (Ibex Pub, Modern Persian Literature Series, 2012 – ISBN: 978-1588140845). You can get a copy from Amazon( here).

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Farzaneh Doosti

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