Synopses & Reviews
A new novel by the master of Iranian letters that directly engages politics in Iran today
Ten years in the writing, this fearless novel—so powerful it’s banned in Iran—tells the stirring story of a tortured people forced to live under successive oppressive regimes.
It begins on a pitch black, rainy night, when there’s a knock on the Colonel’s door. Two policemen have come to summon him to collect the tortured body of his youngest daughter. The Islamic Revolution is devouring its own children. Set over the course of a single night, the novel follows the Colonel as he pays a bribe to recover his daughter’s body and then races to bury her before sunrise.
As we watch him struggle with the death of his innocent child, we find him wracked with guilt and anger over the condition of his country, particularly as represented by his own children: a son who fell during the 1979 revolution; another driven to madness after being tortured during the Shah’s regime; a third who went off to martyr himself fighting for the ayatollahs in their war against Iraq; one murdered daughter, and another who survives by being married to a cruel opportunist.
An incredibly powerful novel about nation, history and family, The Colonel is a startling illumination of the consequences of years of oppression and political upheaval in Iran.
"Dowlatabadi (Missing Soluch) is regarded as one of Iran's greatest novelists, yet this work, 25 years in the making, is banned in his native country. This fact alone is evidence of the difficulties that have long plagued Iran, and this novel stands as a testament to that struggle. Set during the Iran-Iraq War, the book follows the colonel, a devout patriot and soldier, as he grapples with the fates of his children, all condemned in one way or another by the revolution and its aftermath. On a miserably wet night, the colonel is tasked with burying his youngest daughter, 14-year-old Parvaneh, killed for handing out anti-regime pamphlets on the street. As he wanders through town in search of a pick and shovel with which to bury her, his thoughts spiral to the downfall of his family, and he wonders to what extent he bears responsibility: 'The colonel felt guilty, too guilty for the very existence of his children, or lack of it, as the case may be. He bore the burden of the offences of each one of his offspring on his shoulders.' Unfortunately, for unfamiliar with Iranian history, the book is a confusion of events, names, and historical figures entwined in the colonel's personal narrative. There is no clear arc, and Patterdale's explanatory notes do little to help solve the ambiguities of the plot. The novel may be a bold statement decrying a country's troubled past, but the message will be lost on the average reader. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
is one of the Middle East’s most important writers. The author of numerous novels, plays, and screenplays, he is also a leading proponent of social and artistic freedom in Iran.
Born in 1940 in a remote farming region of Iran, the son of a shoemaker, his early life and teens were spent as an agricultural day laborer until he made his way to Tehran, where he started working in the theater and began writing plays, stories and novels. He is the author Missing Soluch, published by Melville House and his first work to be translated into English, and a 10-book portrait of Iranian village life, Kelidar. The Colonel has been shortlisted for the Haus der Kulturen Berlin International Literary Award and longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize.