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Strange Times, My Dear: The Pen Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature Hardcover – April 18, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nahid Mozzaffari teaches Middle Eastern history in New York. Ahmad Karimi Hakkak is professor of Persian Literature at the University of Maryland.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 494 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; Hardcover Edition edition (April 18, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559707658
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559707657
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,919,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ronald Scheer on September 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is as if a kind of iron curtain fell between Iran and the U.S. after the fall of the Shah in 1979. This collection of prose and poetry by Iranian writers lifts that curtain for a glimpse of that country's recent past through the eyes of many of its most creative writers.

For me, the most interesting selection was an excerpt from Ahmad Mahmud's novel "Scorched Earth," about ordinary citizens experiencing the invasion of Iraq in 1980. I also liked the excerpt from Esmail Fassih's novel "Sorraya in a Coma," which follows a traveler on an arduous journey by bus from Iran to Turkey. Reza Farrokhfal's "Ah, Istanbul" tells a sad story of an older writer, about to leave Iran, whose manuscript is considered unpublishable by a young editor's assistant. Goli Taraghi's "In Another Place" is a psychological study describing the coming apart of an ideal marriage. Farkhondeh Aghai's "A Little Secret" tells of a woman's long stay in a hospital ward, where a young man wounded in the war appeals to a young sweetheart on a nearby telephone.

Iranians abroad will surely find this collection more illuminating and rewarding than westerners simply because the references to daily life and Iranian culture and history often require explanatory footnotes that can't always explain enough. Literary styles take some getting used to, as well. For readers of western literature, these stories and excerpts will seem slow going and repetitive before they reach a conclusion that sometimes seems to lose something in the translation. But as many of these 43 writers have never been translated into English, this is an opportunity to experience a world that has been largely hidden from view. And that's reason enough to give it a read.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book for everyone who wishes to learn about life in Iran in past 30 years. Some of most important events of past 30 years shape stories and poems in this book. For instance "The Victory Chronicle of the Magi" happens during 1979 revolution while other stories deal with Iran-Iraq war, Iranians leaving Iran for other lands, and many more events. Some stories even go back further since few authors in discussing background of their characters describe events in Iranian history dating back to more than 70 years ago. This book is a must read for Iranians living outside Iran. Sentences such as:"Mash-Mohammad pours the tea in the saucer and blows on it." bring back memories and reading this book familiarizes Iranian diaspora with new generation of writers and poets such as "Behnam Dayani", "Partow Nuriala", "Farkhondeh Aghai", and many more names.
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Format: Paperback
This book came out in 2005 and focused on prose and poetry published originally in Persian since the 1979 revolution, by writers in Iran and abroad. It contained 66 works by 43 authors. There were 17 short stories, 5 excerpts from novels, and 44 poems.

Most of the prose works were clearly dated and were published between 1980 and about 2001, with nearly all from the 1980s and 90s. The poetry comprised about 20% of the book, with the year of original publication not provided. Of all the writers in the collection, 13 were women.

The authors were roughly from three generations, chosen by Iranian critics on the basis of quality. Among the prose writers, the oldest were Simin Daneshvar (1921-), Iraj Pezeshkzad (1928-), Ahmad Mahmud (1931-2002), and Taghi Modarressi (1931-97). The youngest were Farideh Kheradmand (1957-), Shahriar Mandanipour (1957-) and Seyyed Ebrahim Nabavi (1958-). Others included Esmail Fassih (1935-), Hushang Golshiri (1937-2000), Goli Taraghi (1939-), Mahmud Dowlatabadi (1940-), Hadi Khorsandi (1943-), Nassim Khaksar (1944-), Shahrnush Parsipur (1946-), Ghazaleh Alizadeh (1948-96), Moniru Ravanipur (1954-) and Gahzi Rabihavi (1956-).

Important novels that were excerpted included Ahmad Mahmud's Scorched Earth (1982), which described a town's experience of the outbreak of war with Iraq, Fassih's Sorraya in a Coma (1983), about its narrator's journey from Tehran to Paris, and Parsipur's Women without Men (published in 1989 but written more than a decade earlier), about the experiences of five strong women.

In connection with writing during the period, the editor's introduction mentioned briefly the 1979 revolution, the subsequent political purges, economic hardship, religious repression and censorship, and the brutal 1980-88 war with Iraq.
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