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Strange Times, My Dear: The Pen Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature Hardcover – April 18, 2005
Digging Into Literature
Explore literary analysis with this featured resource from Macmillan.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I needed this book for one of my classes since my professor is one of the authors. I use the book often for assignments. Read morePublished on March 11, 2014 by Maral Azarani
I know I am unlearned on most other cultures. I do read about the practices and views of people in other parts of the world. Read morePublished on September 18, 2013 by WILLIAM EVERS