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

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