Born in 1953 in the Southeastern city of Ahvaz, Iran, Robab Moheb studied sociology at the University of Tehran and, after immigration to Sweden in 1992, she received a Bachelor’s degree in Pedagogical Sciences from the University of Växjö and a Masters degree from the University of Stockholm. In 2008 she published her first translations of Swedish poetry into Farsi in collaboration with the renowned Swedish poets Kristina Lugn, Ida Börjel and Katarina Grippenberg. Regarded as one of the most respected living Iranian poets by Poetry International, Robab Moheb has published numerous volumes both in Swedish and Persian in the past three decades. “In her impressive poetical journey through seven collections, she represents poetry as an essential element of life,” writes Sam Vaseghi on her seven-volume collection. Ululations Under Erasure (زنجمورههای مخدوش), From my Mother’s Womb to Allegories (از زهدان مادرم تا تمثیلات), The World Dies of a Sneeze (جهان از یک عسطه میمیرد), and quite recently What Would a Horse Know About the Steam Horse Logic (2013) are among her best-known poetry collections.
A hardworking translator and researcher, Robab Moheb has translated works by Roberto Bolano, and also authored The anatomy of Love and Gray Cherries (long story) as well as a book of research on old Iranian folk narrative Samak Ayyar.
PARSAGON What seven works of contemporary Persian literature would you recommend for translation or more attention?
MOHEB I am not sure about recommendable Iranian works, because fine works such as Sadeq Hedayat’s The Blind Owl are already translated to most languages. Yet I suppose that Ahmad Mahmoud’s righteous position has been denied in Iranian literature. He is a great story writer and as far as I know he is one of the great untranslated Iranians.
PARSAGON What are the top seven works of world literature that have had the deepest influence on your life and career?
MOHEB Well, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and all works of the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño, to name one or two. I have read the books in Swedish and should especially refer to his 2666, a thousand-page book that in my opinion will become a world classic. There are many more good books, however, if you want a list:
- Most works of Franz Kafka, especially his Metamorphosis
- Sadeq Hedayat’s The Blind Owl
- Ahmad Mahmoud’s Neighbors
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude
- Kafka on the Shore and Norwegian Wood, of Haruki Murakami’s best works
- Stig Dagerman’s A Burnt Child among his other works
- Hjalmar Söderberg’s Doctor Glas
And they are all works of prose fiction, if that is what you’ve asked about.