Image: Abbas Kiarostami, Abbas Kiarostami, "Close-Up," 1990. Pictured: Hossein Sabzian. Courtesy of the Criterion Collection
We continue our tenth anniversary celebration with a return to the topic of our inaugural issue: Iran. Ten years later, writers still struggle with arbitrary censorship, the weight of war, and the limited scope of a closed society; yet the new generation of writers defies these restrictions to present acute portraits of contemporary Iran. The issue includes fiction by Hossein Mortezaeian Abkenar, Payam Feili, Behnaz Alipour Gaskari, Noori Ijadi, Alireza Mahmoudi Iranmehr, Neda Kavoosifar, Paxima Mojavezi, Yasser Norouzi, and Yaghoub Yadali. We thank our guest editors: Shahriar Mandanipour, who contributes a passionate introduction, and Sara Khalili, whose elegant translations bring these authors to us. Our special section showcases writing by and about translators, with two slyly subversive stories from Claude Bleton and Jacques Gélat, an essay by Suzanne Jill Levine, and an interview by David Auerbach with Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky about their new anthology, In Translation.
The Poet, His Cut-Off Head in His Hand, Went Singing Songs and Ghazals: Literature in Iran
Iran’s literature has survived, and its survival has a secret.
Like a Body Turned Inside Out
Borzu Alvandi will always wonder why he wasn’t martyred.
Green Sour Orange
With his eyes bulging, Mr. Moadab murmurs, “It’s like silk . . .”
I lost two people, I’ll take two people . . . with this very bayonet.
He sets off, a few steps ahead of me. I follow him.
The Pink Cloud
I was looking at the sky when suddenly a shower of bullets pierced my chest.
from “I Will Grow, I Will Bear Fruit . . . Figs”
I leave and return with a large piece of sky.
Someone is Calling “Leili”
By the way, how old am I? I can’t remember.
You want me to grant your wish, you must satisfy my need.
She was now sitting half-naked in front of the door.
Reviewed by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
In his latest work the poet sets a different task for himself; he writes as if to battle against the failure of words