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Censoring an Iranian Love Story (Vintage)by Shahriar Mandanipour
Synopses & Reviews
From one of Irans most acclaimed and controversial contemporary writers, his first novel to appear in Englisha dazzlingly inventive work of fiction that opens a revelatory window onto what its like to live, to love, and to be an artist in todays Iran.
The novel entwines two equally powerful narratives. A writer named Shahriarthe authors fictional alter egohas struggled for years against the all-powerful censor at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Now, on the threshold of fifty, tired of writing dark and bitter stories, he has come to realize that the “world around us has enough death and destruction and sorrow.” He sets out instead to write a bewitching love story, one set in present-day Iran. It may be his greatest challenge yet.
Beautiful black-haired Sara and fiercely proud Dara fall in love in the dusty stacks of the library, where they pass secret messages to each other encoded in the pages of their favorite books. But Irans Campaign Against Social Corruption forbids their being alone together. Defying the state and their disapproving parents, they meet in secret amid the bustling streets, Internet cafés, and lush private gardens of Tehran.
Yet writing freely of Sara and Daras encounters, their desires, would put Shahriar in as much peril as his lovers. Thus we read not just the scenes Shahriar has written but also the sentences and words hes crossed out or merely imagined, knowing they can never be published.
Laced with surprising humor and irony, at once provocative and deeply moving, Censoring an Iranian Love Story takes us unforgettably to the heart of one of the worlds most alluring yet least understood cultures. It is an ingenious, wholly original novela literary tour de force that is a triumph of art and spirit.
From the Hardcover edition.
If conducting a love affair in modern Iran is not a simple undertaking, then telling the story of that love may be even more difficult. In a country where mere proximity between a man and a woman may be the prologue to deadly sin, where illicit passion is punished by imprisonment, or even death, telling that most redemptive of human narratives becomes the greatest literary challenge. Shahriar Mandanipour evokes a pair of young lovers who find each other – despite surreal persecution and repressive parents – through coded messages and internet chat rooms; and triumphantly their story entwines with an account of their creator’s struggle. Inventive, darkly comic and profoundly touching, Censoring an Iranian Love Story celebrates both the unquenchable power of the written word and a love that is doomed, glorious, and utterly real.
About the Author
Shahriar Mandanipour has won numerous awards for his novels, short stories, and nonfiction in Iran, although he was unable to publish his fiction from 1992 until 1997 as a result of censorship. He came to the United States in 2006 as the third International Writers Project Fellow at Brown University. He is currently a visiting scholar at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His work has appeared in PEN America, The Literary Review, and The Kenyon Review.
Visit the author's website at www.mandanipour.net.
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