07 Nov

Scorpion on Andimeshk Railway Stairs

  • 118065-400x250Title: Scorpion on Andimeshk Railway Stairs, or This Train is Bleeding, Sir!
  • Series: Contemporary Iranian Fiction
  • Author: Hossein Mortezai’ean Abkenar
  • Genre: Novel – War Literature
  • Publisher: Nashr-e Ney
  • Release Date: 2006


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A peerless war (anti-war) novel, Scorpion on Andimeshk Train Stairs offers a real life-like account of Iranian troops’ encounter with the Iraqi army in the south of Iran, chemical bombardments and the unrepresentable darker side of defeat, suffering and sorrow of the people and soldiers. Yet the novel is anything but a realistic war novel. Based on exaggeration and Keitch, form in this novel supersedes content. It also distances from the dominant Holy Defense discourse of the imposed war and intentionally avoids tragic or epic tones. It is recently translated to French.

27 May

May 2015 Roundup

I. The 28th Tehran Int’l Book Fair Held

Tehran International Book Fair is annually held in May as a social and cultural phenomenon with book displays, panel discussions and publishing deals. The Fair is considered the most significant event of its kind in Asia and the Middle East and a significant venue for publishers and book lovers to exchange opinions and experiences.

The 2015 book fair hit records in book sales with a total sum of 700 billion rials, and improvemenst in the exhibitional aspects of the fair besides its ever-successful sales section. 

To get an idea of what Tehran Book Fair looks like, take a look at the event with PressTV correspondent Hoda Lezgee (here).

II. Mohammad-Ali Sepanlou, the Bard of Tehran, Passes Away Aged 75

Mohammd-Ali Sepanlou, also known as the Bard of Tehran because of the number of is poems themed on Tehran, passed away at age 75. Sepanlou graduated from Tehran University’s Faculty of Law in 1963. Throughout his literary career, he published over 50 books, including

He has composed 15 collections of poems including “Earth”, “Sidewalks”, “The Absent Sinbad”, “Invasion”, “Streets, Deserts”, “Exiled in Homeland” and “Sailing across Tehran”. He is also the author of “Men”, a short story collection, “Remaking the Reality”, a compilation of short stories by various Iranian writers, “The Avant-garde Writers of Iran”, about the history of novel, short story and play writing in modern Persian literature.  His works have been translated into English, German, Arabic, Swedish, Dutch and French.

Sepanlou also translated works of several renowned writers, such as Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus into Persian. He took part in many literary seminars and conferences around the world, introducing Iranian culture and literature to writers, critics and book-enthusiasts in other countries.

Sepanlou was awarded the French Legion of Honour and the Max Jacob award for his scholarly and literary achievements. [PressTV]

III. Urdu Translation of Da Unveiled

Eco Cultural Institute announced, on 22 May 2015, the Urdu translation of “Da” was unveiled in a ceremony during which Sayedeh Zahra Hosseini, the narrator of the book, read out a piece of poetry in @damemory of the martyrs of the Sacred Defense and described part of her memories of the Sacred Defense. She noted that despite all the pain and suffering caused by years of war, we are in our martyrs’ debt. The martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the prime of youth to defend their homeland.

‘Da’ contains recollections by Seyyedeh Zahra Husseini of the time when the Iraqi army captured Khorramshahr in the early days of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. It is a true-to-life story of a teenager who experienced the early days of the war in Khorramshahr. Seyyedeh Azam Husseini wrote ‘Da’ according to narrations by Seyyedeh Zahra Husseini. The book was published in 2008 and soon became an Iranian bestseller.

IV. Shahnameh expert Mir Jalaleddin Kazzazi honored

Mir Jalaleddin Kazzazi, an expert on Persian poet Ferdowsi’s epic masterpiece Shahnameh, was honored during a ceremony at Tehran’s Arasbaran Cultural Center on Tuesday.

The ceremony named “The Enchanter of Enchantment” was organized on the sidelines of the 10th Congress for Commemoration of Ferdowsi, during which three of Kazzazi’s recently published books were also introduced:  “Yorknameh” contains memoirs of the author during his trip to New York, “Parand-o-Palas” and “The Eye and Light of Spring” contain a collection of his notes and poetry composed over the past few years.
Kazzazi is famous for his idiosyncratic system of speaking devoid of any non-Persian words. He never uses any Arabic or European vocabulary, hence he has developed a unique style which is ripe with purely Persian equivalents for any words or jargons.

V. Iranian film “Nahid” wins Prix de l’Avenir at Cannes

Iranian filmmaker Ida Panahandeh’s social drama “Nahid” and Indian director Neeraj Ghaywan’s “Masaan” share Prix de l’Avenir — the special jury prize for debut films at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival, organizers announced on Saturday, reports Tehran Times.

The film “Nahid” tells the story of an Iranian woman who has failed in her first marriage and is unable to express her love for the second time due to social conditions, while she is trying to gain custody of her son after the divorce. The cast is composed of figures such as Pejman Bazeghi, Sareh Bayat and Navid Mohammadzadeh.

16 Apr

Just Say Nothing: a carnival of voices


Just Say Nothing (2009) is a collection of nine short stories written by Mohammad-Hussein Mohammadi. Red Figs of Mazar (2004) and Encyclopedia of Afghanistan Story Writing (2006) are among other works published by this young prolific Afghan writer. Set in Afghanistan under Soviet’s or Taliban’s occupation, almost all his short stories are either preoccupied with or overshadowed by the concept of war.

The collection is accompanied by a glossary of Dari Persian to Farsi (Iranian Persian) at the end of the book. The most astonishing thing about the stories is the unique points of view contributed to the narration of the characters and events. Stories are narrated from a different and even opposing vantage points as those of a Talib soldier, his victim, or a disinterested passerby. The Narration, whether carried on the shoulder of a whining young child or a deserted anxious housewife, enjoys different levels of interpretation. For instance, the metaphoric language finds a profound voice in “The Drunk Partridge” where the exhausted aged bird, recently a looser, fed up with everyday fight is strolling on white and black graves as a rehearsal for the match. The images are made beautifully through repetitious words of hope and despair uttered by the partridge owner.

“Just Say Nothing” which lends its title to the whole collection is a one-day account of a woman on how she has taken the risk of getting out of the house during Taliban reign to come and ask her father a favor to save her own family. She keeps talking throughout the story. Still, she is not simply involved in a monologue. There are references to other characters which are only understood through her nonstop stream of spoken consciousness. she continuously speaks her mind despite all the advice urging her to keep silent. Despite the fact that any clue to the sex or gender of the narrator is absent up to a certain point in the story, it could be felt that you are hearing a feminine voice from the very beginning.

“There Were Eight of Us Who Had No Legs” experiences a different narratological voice by reciting the story from the point of the collective “we” as the vantage view. The scene is set with certain skills and uniqueness; eight paralyzed Talib soldiers are appointed to guard a castle surrounded by a graveyard from a ben. And all through the story it is the eight of them telling the story as one single voice. Defamiliarized by the concept of “we”, we as the audience are considered as a part of the narration by admitting and, at the same time, trying to ignore the emotional distance between the “we” as we are and the “us” in “Eight of Us Who Had No Legs.”  The story not only enjoys a challenging narratological voice, but also is an original and breathtaking one.

Far from war’s fanfare, “Rana” is a little boy’s accounts of his young aunt, Rana. Whereas the story can be taken for children literature, which is the author’s start point in literary carrier and in fact his area of expertise, the words unravel a chain of psychological ties which could also be discussed in Freudian psychoanalysis. Encoding and decoding of the psychological ties have been skillfully and believably manipulated through the naïve narration of Hussein, the whining little boy. However, you can read and enjoy the story without bothering to know what an Oedipal Complex is.

Altogether, as a Persian reader who has never tried a modern Dari Persian literature, Just Say Nothing could make a very good beginning. Although there is a glossary for help at the end of the book, you will find yourself sunk in reading pages and pages without checking it because you will be enjoying and experiencing a different but familiar piece of literature written with a skillful language.