The Landing 1
MOHAMMAD HASSAN SHAHSAVAARI
The Rules of Restlessness 15
The Kingdom that Died Under the Cedar Trees 31
As if You’d Said Leily 41
My Bird 53
And Others 65
My Share 77
Banou’s Last Game 91
Names and Shadows 115
MOHAMMAD RAHIM OKHOVAT
Aminah’s Grand Journey 123
Bone of a Pig, Hands of a Leper 135
The Grey Curse 145
Bluer than Sin 157
Another Tempest Is On Its Way 169
SEYYED MEHDI SHOJAEE
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-
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.
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.
Mohammad Hassan Shahsavaari
Ofoq Publishers, 287 pp.
Translated by Dr Abbas Pejman
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,
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...
Born in 1971, M. H. Shahsavaari is an Iranian journalist, critic
and writer. The Landing (Paagard) is his first novel.
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.
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
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
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
joon – a more informal or intimate variation of ‘jaan’. Can be
used to address a parent, as with ‘agha-joon’, or someone close,
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).
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.