Born in 1979 in Rasht, Mohammad Tolouei holds a BA in Cinema and an MA degree in Dramatic Literature from the University of Tehran. He published his debut novel Fair Wind’s Prey in 2007 (winner of Farda Awards for Best Technical Novel of the Year; nominee of 8th Shahid Ghanipour Awards) and his short story collection I’m Not Janette in 2011 (winner of 12th Golshiri Literary Awards). Tolouei belongs to the emerging New Generation of Iranian novelists and short story writers marked by their transitive style of writing that sets free of tradition and ventures novelty in narrative and form. An urban middle class voice with a good command of history and a peerless consciousness of space, Tolouei is often praised for his unique diction and lauded for dauntless treatment of far-off professions with peerless mastery over related jargon. His world of short stories is known for its diversity; he probes into the world of the invisible citizens and underground dwellers: the antiquarians, backgammon players, opera singers, communist partisans, addicts, and voluntary combatants. Tolouei has traversed a long way from his debut novel – an account of the inhabitants of Rasht in time of the Second World War, enforced emigration of Polish refugees through Iran, and the formation of the Communist Party in Iran – to his later stories with cunning use of mockumentary as dominant narrative technique. He calls himself a disciple of Jorge Luis Borges and Mario Vargas Llosa, while an American critic has compared his bold style with that of younger Martin Amis. A selection of his poems and short stories are translated to English. He is also a prolific screenwriter, dramatist, poet and researcher. His other awards and achievements include:Winner of the 16th Shanghai Film Festival’s Awards for the Best Screenplay 2013 /Winner of 1st Bushehr Literary Awards /Second winner of 2nd Iranian Stories Awards in Mashhad /and Winner of First Prize for Drama from the 11th Festival of Varsity Theater, Tehran.
PARSAGON What are the top seven works of world literature that have had the deepest influence on your life and career?
TOLOUEI These are the books that have inspired me in my literary career:
- Conversation in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa
- Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges, translated to Persian by Ahmad Mir-Alaei
- La Coscienza di Zeno (Zeno’s Conscience) by Italo Svevo
- Qui a ramené Doruntine? (Who Brought Doruntine?) by Ismail Kadare
- The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- And finally, I can’t choose between One Thousand and One Nights and Jamae’-al-Hekayat. Equally both, perhaps.
PARSAGON What seven works of Persian literature (especially contemporary fiction) would you recommend for translation to other languages?
TOLOUEI I’d rather recommend works by living writers at the present, for that is what the world reader wants to learn about:
- The Baron’s Melancholy Blues, by Asghar Abdollahi
- Keep Me Warm All Winter Long, by Ali Khodaee
- Nocturnal Harmony, by Reza Ghassemi
- That Cozy Corner On the Left, by Mehdi Rabbi
- Life Goes on According to Your Will, by Amirhossein Khorshidfar
- Snow and Cloud Symphony, by Peyman Esmaeili
- Scorpion on Andimeshk Railway Stairs, by Hossein Morteza’ian Abkenar
--Updated Dec. 12, 2015--