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July/August 2003

Literary Border-Crossings in Iran

Crisscrossing the boundaries of literature, theater, and film, Iranian writers draw on a rich cultural heritage and volatile present. Playwrights Bijan Mofid and Bahram Beyzaii dramatize the fall of Mossadeq and the death of Sindbad the Sailor. Tirdad Zolghadr returns to Tehran in a brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography. Behnam Dayani relates a relic of an abusive past to the "MacGuffin" of Hitchcock's Psycho. Kader Abdollah explores the meaning of language in a folkloric tale and a piercing interview with Frits Abrahams, while Firouz Nadji-Ghazvini captures the desolation of an addict in war-torn Tehran. In addition to her luminous translations, Zara Houshmand introduces us to poet Ahmad Shamlou and to the roots of Iranian theater. Finally, Salar Abdoh discusses the style and substance of Iranian film as seen at home and abroad.

from Night Bus
By Giampiero Rigosi
Thursday, 1 April 1993, 7:30 p.m.- Friday, 2 April 1993, 2:30 a.m.Hearts do not grieve and can suffer Hour by hour, even for an entire life, Without any of us ever knowing, With too much certainty, what…
Translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein
Iran in Theater
Last summer in New York, two Iranian theatre events cracked open a small window on a dramatically alien world. Each made its impact without benefit of a text that could be comprehended by the audience;…
Translated from English
By Ahmad Shamlou
And so we repeat the round / of night and day
Translated from Persian by Zara Houshmand
A couple at the tomb of the poet Hafez.
By Adam Jones. License: CC BY 2.0.
The Fish
By Ahmad Shamlou
I think my heart has never been / like this / so warm and red.
Translated from Persian by Zara Houshmand
from The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad
By Bahram Beyzaii
We are going to seek happiness for you and your children. All of us! Because one hand alone is useless. Are you ready?
Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand & Bella Warda
from The Moon and the Leopard
By Bijan Mofid
Why should I give up the light that I've held?
Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand
from Cuneiform
By Kader Abdolah
Hadjar bore seven children. Aga Akbar was the youngest, and he was born deaf and mute. She knew it even in the first month. She saw that he didn't react. But she didn't want to believe it. She…
Translated from Dutch by Sam Garrett
Freedom Can Be a Nightmare: An Interview with Kader Abdolah
This interview was originally published August 12, 1995, in NRC Handelsblad. A unique phenomenon in Dutch literature: Kader Abdolah, a political refugee from Iran who writes little gems of stories—in…
Translated from Dutch
from A Little Less Conversation
By Tirdad Zolghadr
To describe Tehran would be like spelling out a frenzied, hourlong dinner table discussion to a complete newcomer.
Translated from English
from Snow over Tehran
By Firouz Nadji-Ghazvini
“Your eyes are full of sadness, friend.”
Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand
from Borderlines–The Return
In the summer of 1947 the flight to Athens, Greece, from New York's Idlewild Airport-my first flight anywhere-involved many hours of idleness both in the air and on sometimes remote runways along…
An Empty Room
By MuXin
As the mountain crested its slope steepened. I was already sweating. A church appeared at the top of the crest. I thought I should rest there a bit before deciding when to descend. The war had just ended.…
Translated from Chinese by Toming Jun Liu
By Ahmad Shamlou
If this is life—how pure!
Translated from Persian by Zara Houshmand
Iran as Cinema
By Salar Abdoh
The movie theater I found myself in was called Freedom; it stood on the corner of two main boulevards that, like the majority of streets in Tehran, are named after martyrs of the revolution: Martyr Beheshti,…
Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand
A Dialogue with MuXin
By Toming Jun Liu
Toming Jun Liu interviewed MuXin in July 1993 in MuXin's home in a suburb of New York. The complete interview was published in Chinese in Lianhe bao (United Times, Taipei, January 23, 1994). Toming…
Translated from Chinese by Toming Jun Liu
Hitchcock and Agha Baji
By Behnam Dayani
To my grandmother, and all other grandmothers whom we never treasured as much as they deserved.On that sunny autumn Thursday afternoon, between the hours of two and seven, three unusual incidents took…
Translated from Persian by Nahid Mozaffari
Paris Lost
By Wladimir Kaminer
Our government was very generous with its citizens; it couldn't be compared to an imperialist regime.
Translated from German by Liesl Schillinger