Censoring an Iranian Love Story, Shahriar Mandanipour

Censoring an Iranian Love Story is all about an Iranian writer who’s tired of writing books about oppression and misery in Iran, and he wants to write a love story, maybe not one with a Hollywood ending, but one that will be a true love story, and will not make its readers never want to love.  However, because of the censorship in Iran, he keeps crossing out pieces of the story that would not get past the censors.  The lovers, Sara and Dara, must act very chaste, never talk about political oppression, and not say or do anything that might cause the readers to think sinful thoughts.  As the book goes on, the writer’s life blends in with the lives of Sara and Dara, and the story takes on a life of its own.

Oh what a cool book this was!  I am so sad this author’s other books have only been published in Farsi!  (Eek, I am reading this book about Iran by an Iranian author, and he says it’s affected to call Persian “Farsi” – like saying “I speak francais”.  Is that right?  It’s affected?  I have never heard anyone say Persian, and I have been saying Farsi since I was – let me think – ten.  I don’t want to be affected!)  I would really like to read others of his books.

The author in the story tries desperately to keep his story apolitical and completely “moral”.  He tells the reader things about the characters that can never go into the story, but these things are part of the characters anyway, and eventually they begin to rebel against the strictures he has placed upon them.  Eventually he comes to realize that the story cannot work as he has written it – despite his best attempts, the censorship (even self-imposed) is destroying his story.  The characters ignore what he says, and do what they want; Dara even takes him to task for writing him as a pathetic and spineless character that nobody could ever love.

It’s a spoof!  On censorship!

Other views: S. Krishna’s Books (thanks for the recommendation!!), Devourer of Books

Tell me if I missed yours!

11 thoughts on “Censoring an Iranian Love Story, Shahriar Mandanipour

  1. Mandanipour is my favourite writer. I’ve almost read all his published stories and I regret that he has lots of them unpublished yet. He often utilises post modern techniques which make his short stories and novels distinctive. I believe if someone translate his other works such as “The east of violet” the western readers will be really shocked by his unique writing style and imagination.

    By the way, most of Iranians like to call their language “Persian” however ” Farsi” is correct as well. Of course Mandanipour has his own reasons for using it in this novel.

    • I’d love for others of his works to be translated. Censoring an Iranian Love Story was so inventive and fascinating.

      I like Persian better, actually! But I’ve always heard it called Farsi. I investigated the nomenclature of the language on Wikipedia, and it turns out that the extremely official-sounding Academy of Persian Language and Literature has decreed that “Persian” is better. The more you know…

    • Maybe your library has it? I was afraid it would be too magical-realism-y for me, but the small amount of magical realism turned out to be very effective. I thought it matched the slightly unreal quality of the story that arises from the author’s self-censorship. I hope you do get a chance to read it!

    • It is really good! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it, because I often have problems with translated works, but in this case, no problem at all! Just a wonderful book. 🙂

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying it – it’s frightening, isn’t it? I have a couple of other books about Iran checked out of the library, that I’m in the middle of reading. It has such a fascinating history and literary tradition.

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