Pulse Persia Layout Sample

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Covers and sample interior pages from Pulse:Persia, a book produced for Arts Council Britain in 2007. All layout and copyediting by Samuel Taradash. Cover art © Saeed Ensafi

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Pulse Persia Layout Sample

  1. 1. PULSE: PERSIA A Sampler of Modern Iranian Fiction
  2. 2. This selection and introduction copyright © Ali Sheikholeslami 2007 The authors and translators assert their respective moral rights to be identified as the authors and translators of these works. The production of this sampler was supported by Arts Council England. Editing, Page Layout, Formatting and Prepress by Samuel Taradash Proofreading by Alice Tallents Cover Typography and Art by Saeed Ensafi iv
  3. 3. Contact For further enquiries please contact: Ali Sheikholeslami e-mail: a.sheikh@runbox.com post: 54 Elmwood Drive Ewell, Epsom Surrey KT17 2NN United Kingdom UK phone: +44 7790 671717 Iran phone: +98 935 3380969 v
  4. 4. vi
  5. 5. Contents Introduction ix ALI SHEIKHOLESLAMI The Landing 1 MOHAMMAD HASSAN SHAHSAVAARI The Rules of Restlessness 15 YAGHOUB YADALI The Kingdom that Died Under the Cedar Trees 31 KHOSROW HAMZAVY As if You’d Said Leily 41 SEPIDEH SHAMLOO My Bird 53 FARIBA VAFI And Others 65 MAHBOOBEH MIRGHADIRI My Share 77 PARINOUSH SANIEE Banou’s Last Game 91 BELQEIS SOLEIMANI Backyard 103 FARHAD HASSANZADEH vii
  6. 6. Contents Names and Shadows 115 MOHAMMAD RAHIM OKHOVAT Aminah’s Grand Journey 123 GOLI TARAGHI Bone of a Pig, Hands of a Leper 135 MOSTAFA MASTOOR The Grey Curse 145 MAHSA MOHEBALI Bluer than Sin 157 MOHAMMAD HOSSEINI Another Tempest Is On Its Way 169 SEYYED MEHDI SHOJAEE Glossary 183 Acknowledgements 184 viii
  7. 7. Introduction Modern Iranian literature is very diverse. From voices reflecting on the condition of women, to literature heavily influenced by the Iran-Iraq War, to the highly personal fiction of modern life, there is an immense spectrum. This project will create opportunities to promote and celebrate that diversity. By having access to new Iranian novels translated into English and published in the UK, the public will have a chance to communicate with a different culture first-hand. They will read the voices of the Iranian people, they will learn about their hopes and frustrations, and their deep contemplations on a variety of issues. This will present readers with an image with a lot more colours and dimensions than they normally obtain from present- day media. With the help of Arts Council England, PULSE: PERSIA is pioneering an initiative in translating modern Persian literature and introducing it to the British audience. The project also hopes to develop the potential for links between publishers in the two countries, and to facilitate their cooperation. ix
  8. 8. After visiting the Tehran International Book Fair, holding discussions with publishers, writers, and members of major literary organisations and awards committees, and gathering comprehensive information about the Iranian literary scene, a list of high-calibre novels was finalised. What you see in this sampler are extracts from those books, each prepared by a dedicated translator, then edited and proofread here in London. My first hope is that you will enjoy reading the excerpts. I also hope that you will feel the same urgency and vibrant energy in these texts. They are great stories and publishing them will be an important literary endeavour, as well as a good investment. Ali Sheikholeslami Executive Editor x
  9. 9. The Landing Mohammad Hassan Shahsavaari Ofoq Publishers, 287 pp. Translated by Dr Abbas Pejman Commercial Profile First published in 2004, the initial run sold out in months, but was banned before a second printing could be made. The novel has been written with masterful technique, and has a beautiful, modern form. Synopsis The protagonist, Bijan, is a medical doctor whose youth is di- vided between tumultuous Tehran University, the battlefields of the Iran-Iraq war, and a remote, poverty-stricken village in east- ern Iran. After these experiences, he returns to Tehran and once more becomes involved in student demonstrations and the strug- gles of society. But after so many years it seems he has lost his belief in everything. It is indeed by pure chance that he has been involved in all the events narrated in The Landing; his odyssey mirrors that of Iran’s young people, with their myriad faiths and despairs, and their countless sources of hope... Author Profile Born in 1971, M. H. Shahsavaari is an Iranian journalist, critic and writer. The Landing (Paagard) is his first novel. 1
  10. 10. Mohammad Hassan Shahsavaari 2
  11. 11. The Landing B of so-called lucky IJAN HAD HEARD MANY TIMES people: those whom chance helps to travel one hundred years’ distance in only one night. He had heard it happens that they find themselves in some ideal place at a singular moment of opportunity. But he never had considered the other face of such an idea. Or perhaps he had, but couldn’t remember now. The possibility that you could find yourself in some wholly undesirable place at a completely ill-fated moment. He had no doubt that it was in just one of those situations that he found himself at this moment, and bit by bit he came to feel he had found an analogy that wasn’t too bad for his own life. He had intended several times to transfer his savings account from the bank in front of Tehran University to a different bank. Each time he went there was real torture for him. But it seemed that masochism too, like so many other things, had become a sort of prayer in those years. Each time he saw the concrete portals which form the university’s prosaic façade, he couldn’t avoid that gnawing in the roots of his throat. It was fourteen years earlier that he had opened the account in a bank facing this façade. And on that day he was so happy! It was the day of his enrolment. 3
  12. 12. Mohammad Hassan Shahsavaari That was the undesirable place. He was aware that there was rioting in that part of the city, but he couldn’t help that. He had to go there, and he had chosen midday as it was likely that both sides would be at rest. When he got there, he saw one man reciting a call to prayer, right in the middle of the street, with others standing in lines behind him. And Bijan became glad. He thought that he had chosen the right moment. But as he finished his affair in the overcrowded bank and came out into the street… That was the ill-fated moment. Bijan knew that they would not let him explain. He was caught among a fleeing group that swept him along a side street. He thought that the act of running, which seemed more than vital to him, would solve his problem. But a young man, who was running beside him, uttered a short moan that confused him. He squeezed the handle of his bag. He imagined that he had commanded his feet to give it their best. But he really didn’t 4
  13. 13. The Landing know if he was running swiftly or not. Involuntarily he looked at his feet, and was still regretting not having trainers on, when his eyes were drawn by a glaring red blur. Another young man was coming out of an alley. There was no time for any kind of reaction. The young man, bent almost double and unable to stand, collided with him. Bijan lost his balance, and with his own left shoulder hit the wall. Something was drumming in his head. When he turned, he saw the young man stagger into the ditch beside the road. Right then, two men came out of the same alley and went to the side of the ditch. One of them stretched out his hand and gripped the fallen young man by the back of his collar. The other, who had leant over the ditch to help his colleague, suddenly saw Bijan. Their gazes locked. A whisper began to sound in the innermost reaches of Bijan’s head, and it told him that he must not stay there. But it was as if that message did not reach his other organs. It seemed that this adversary did not know what to do either. He was still crouched and he was still shaking his chain, which was his weapon, but did nothing else. His friend was asking him for help. Several times he had hauled the young man up, but each time lost his grip midway. The young man’s body was stained 5
  14. 14. Glossary agha – literally meaning ‘man’, but used with men’s names as a mark of respect. e.g., Hassan Agha, Agha Hamid, Agha-ye Soheili. Also used with -jaan or -joon as respectful term of address for one’s father. haji – someone who has been to Mecca on a haj pilgrimage. Captialized when used as a title or term of respect, e.g., Haji- agha, Haji-khanoom, Haji Ali. jaan – a suffix added to names to show affection and endearment. ‘Saeed-jaan’. joon – a more informal or intimate variation of ‘jaan’. Can be used to address a parent, as with ‘agha-joon’, or someone close, e.g., ‘Bijan-joon’. khanoom – literally meaning ‘woman’, used as a respectful term of address. Can be used independently or in combination with a name. Sarah Khanoom, Khanoom-e Rahmati. Also used with -jan or -joon to address one’s mother. manto – a long, fitted coat worn that hangs below the knee, worn by women in Iran as a type of hijab (covering prescribed by the Qur’an). 183
  15. 15. Acknowledgements PULSE: PERSIA wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Arts Council England and the advice of Charles Beckett and Kate Griffin of the Literature Department. Thanks to the authors in Iran who have generously given us permission to sample and present their work. Thanks also to Amanda Hopkinson, Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, who provided invaluable advice and encouragement. Many thanks to the publishers in Iran who have helped throughout this process: Alireza Ramezani (Nashr- e Markaz), Shahla Lahiji (Roshangaran and Women’s Studies Publishing), Reza Hashemi Nejad (Ofoq Publishers), and Amir Hosseinzadegan (Qoqnoos). The translators have played a vital role, in both translating and in trying to keep up with all the pressure and demands. The complete work was proofread by Alice Tallents and editing, rewriting, text preparation and prepress were done by Samuel Taradash, who has done a great job. Thanks to Tony and Valerie Neal for their ongoing support, and to the following people who have given me advice or kindly helped along the way during this project: Hisham Matar, Jamshid Karagahi, Dr Amir Ali Nojoumian, Dr Kian Soheil, Mohammad Hassan Shahsavaari, Dr Abbas Pejman, Professor David Fulton, Ahang Haghighat, Elizabeth Cochrane, Nina Joshi, and Sarah Bagherpour. 184
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