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Does it seem weird to open a post with a picture of a bookstore in Iran? Yes, it probably does. But according to the Sunday Times article critiqued below bookstores DO NOT exist in Iran, so I thought it might important to show you a few!

Does it seem weird to open a post with a picture of a bookstore in Iran? Yes, it probably does. But according to a recent Sunday Times article (critiqued below) bookstores DO NOT exist in Iran, so I thought it might be important to show you that they DO indeed exist! And they are actually quite popular too!

Dear All,

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).

Not only are there many bookstores in Iran, but the Tehran International Book Fair is extraordinarily popular too!

Not only are there many bookstores in Iran, but there are book fairs too! The annual Tehran International Book Fair is extraordinarily popular. This picture is from the 2006 Tehran International Book Fair.

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.

Another Bookstore in Iran--they are everywhere!

Another Bookstore in Iran--they are everywhere!

Current Issues

* 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.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070523/ts_nm/gulf_usa_ships_dc;_ylt=AjqeRVgqCQwyyrccLNzOyOus0NUE
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 karate players.

Iranian women karate teammates practicing their moves.

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.

Visual Delight

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!

A painting of a snowy day by Nasrin Dastan (click the link above for many more of her beautiful works).

A painting of a quiet snowy day by Nasrin Dastan (click the link above for many more of her beautiful works).

Until our next window, have a great week.

Best,
Fatemeh

===================================
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
==================================

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The Real Faces of Iran

The Real Faces of Iran

Dear Friends,

In the past few months, the U.S. media coverage of Iran has gone from bad to unbelievable. It used to emphasize the negative and leave out the positive. It now appears to be inventing information that those of us in close contact with Iran are unable to trace. For example, in May 2006 there was a report in the papers here that the Iranian Jews will be
forced to wear a uniform. Last weekend, another breaking news was: Ahmadinejad is imposing a ban on the use of foreign words. There is no
truth to either of these (I won’t list more).

Some of us in the Iranian American community feel that, due to the
explosive conditions in the Middle East, we must provide our American
friends and family members with possibility of access to reliable
information, small as its impact might be. This is why I have put this
e-mail update together to keep you informed of events in contemporary
Iran. Its frequency would be once a week — unless there is significant
breaking news. I have made contact with friends who will monitor the
news in Iran, and I will try to follow reliable publications here.
Needless to say,  I will not be able to be comprehensive.

If you feel you don’t need these updates, please let me know to take you
off the list. If you wish to check how informed you might be about Iran,
take a look at the following questions:

On the issue of the Iranian nuclear program, did you know that:

* The Iranian supreme religious leader issued a legal decree (fatwa)
on November 6, 2004  in which all development, production, and use
of nuclear weapons is considered against the Islamic principles
and should not be undertaken under any circumstances.
* Iranian nuclear facilities have been inspected over 2000 time
during the past three years (some surprise inspections) by the
IAEA and nothing illegal has been found. The IAEA’s report has
specified “to date, there is no evidence that undeclared material
are related to any weapon’s programs.”
* Iran is home to tens of thousands of people affected by Saddam
Husain’s chemical weapons, and people have a strong feeling
against the use of such weapons (I know some of these people
personally).
* Iran has described the package of incentives from the west as
potentially acceptable and announced a while ago that there will
be an official and detailed reply by August 22nd, 2006.

On the issues related to the local politics, did you know that:

* the Taliban are an enemy of Iran and have engaged in regular
assassinations of Iranian diplomats.
* The Iranian regime considers al-Qa’ideh a terrorist organization.
* Iranians held night long vigils to commemorate the victims of 9/11.
* Iran does not support the Shiite extremist Moqtada al-Sadr, and
prefers peace, stability, and democratic elections in Iraq because
it does not wish its own Kurdish population to aspire to
separatist ideas and because a democratic election in Iraq will
give a prominent role to the Iraqi Shiites.
* According to all major historians of the region, in reality, Iran
exercises little influence on the Hezbollah.

On the social and cultural front, did you know:

* the latest best-selling titles in Iran are the DaVinci Code and
Hillary Clinton’s My life in (Persian translation)
* according to the latest statistics, close to 70% of the Iranian
university students are women
* IVF, and gamete donation, as well as transsexual operations are
legal in Iran.
* Iranian cinema produces critically acclaimed films (often openly
critical of the regime).
* Iranian women golfers, race car drivers, and polo players compete
internationally.

I hope my next messages will be much shorter. Please let me know if you
wish your name to be taken off this list, or if you wish to add
someone’s name to it. I will send out my first update message soon.

Best,
Fatemeh Keshavarz

========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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