I hope you are enjoying the summer. As you were busy reading the previous window, I was traveling some more, this time to Chicago for a workshop and a book signing. Let me welcome you to window 31 without further ado:
The two-day conference in Chicago was dedicated mostly discussing the subject of Sufism (the Islamic mystical tradition) with a number of fine scholars working on Iran and other parts of the Muslim world.
Quite a few of these American friends/colleagues travel to the region regularly. The subject of an article published in Sunday Times a day before the conference inserted a sad note into our otherwise happy discussions. The article called “Seeking Signs of Literary Life in Iran” made incredible claims such as: bookstores do not really exist in Iran, or the books Iranians read are good to be discussed only with their therapists!
Before I proceed with a brief critique of the Sunday Times article, please go ahead and click here (Bookstores in Iran) to see a few recent pictures of actual bookstores in Iran (yes, they exist).
Sunday Times Article on Iranian Bookstores, Books and Readers
On May 27, Sunday Times published and article called “Seeking Signs
of Literary Life in Iran” by Azaseh Moaveni regarding books,
bookstores and readers in present day Iran. the article presents an
exaggerated and inaccurate perspective. The author suggests that in
present day Iran “bookstores do not exist at such,” and what Iranians
read do not “lend themselves to discussion except with a therapist.”
She goes on to say that after the 1979 revolution Iranian women have
no “social clubs or culture centers to frequent” and that due to
censorship, characters in translation of Western novels sip dough (an
Iranian yogurt soda) instead of whisky. Unfortunately, I can’t tell
you that currently Iran is free of censorship. But I can say with
certainty that the statements I just quoted are simply erroneous.
Last summer, I personally visited many bookstores and purchased a good
number of books in Iran including Sharnoush Parsipour’s critically
acclaimed Persian novel Tuba and The Meaning of the Night and a copy
of the Persian translation of The Da Vinci Code, which I found to be
very popular with Iranian readership. I was fascinated with the large
window displays of bookstores for the Persian translation of the
respective autobiographies of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Hillary
Clinton’s My Life (complete with her picture on the cover) was also a
popular title. Prior to writing this window, I picked this last book
and examined it carefully to be able to give you some finer details.
This translation contains discussions of Senator Clinton’s pro-choice
views, and her support for homosexuals in the army. It also refers to
occasions where she has drinks (other than dough) with friends.
* The news concerning a possible American military assault on Iran
continues to suggest different – and at times conflicting –
possibilities. In the month of May, for example, one the one hand,
Reuters has reported 9 US warships entering the Gulf in a show of
force. Following Vice President Cheney’s travel to the region, this
may be viewed as a grave new development.
Other reports, however, suggest strong opposition by high ranking U.S.
army officers to the idea of a military campaign against Iran
according to the Teach Peace Foundation. The reporter Gareth
Porter, who interviewed Admiral William Fallon suggests that the
Admiral has vowed that this will not happen until he is Chief of
Central Command. Let us hope, the latter report is more indicative of
the reality: http://www.teachpeace.com/june.pdf
Iranian Women Karate Players
Iranian women do use culture centers, social and sports clubs. Having been introduced to a new Iranian women’s sports web site, I decided to put together a brief slide show for you of Shirzanan, an Iranian women Karate team practicing. I am very careful though to keep these attachments very small, so as not to cause problems for your home computers. Click here for more: Iranian Women Karate Team.
Before, we get to our painting exhibit of the week, I’d like to report
on the great success of the Iranian graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi. The Jury Prize in Canne film festival 2007 was awarded by Jamel Debbouze to the Persepolis, an animated adaptation of Ms. Satrapi’s graphic novel about growing up in Iran during and after the 1979 revolution. Reygadas. http://www.persianmirror.com/Article_det.cfm?id=1467&getArticleCategory=79&getArticleSubCategory=119
Our final visual delight this week brings you the work of an Iranian
woman painter, Nasrin Dastan (b. 1968) who also studied graphic arts.
In this show, however, Ms. Dastan’s work demonstrates her masterful
use of watercolor particularly in depicting natural scenery. I have
enjoyed Ms. Dastan’s snowy days immensely. Click here: Nasrin Dastan Painting. Enjoy!
Until our next window, have a great week.
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399