Shahriar Mandanipour's English-language debut is an expansive, wry and funny examination of censorship in Iran narrated by a writer of fiction who shares Mandanipour's name. The novel's characters live between reality and fantasy, in a world where flying carpets, alchemy, talismans, and ghosts appear naturally alongside references to contemporary pop culture.
The novel's two plot lines, the story of the writer and that of the two lovers, are distinguished by bold-face type, while strikethroughs denote passages the fictional author has chosen to delete. Sara and Dara, named for the Dick and Jane of Iranian children's books, are based on "real" people who the narrator follows around Tehran, and eventually confronts when one is about to diverge from the path he'd intended to write.
Of these two threads, the more revealing one is the author's. He often...
Beyond the Book
Shariar Mandanipour's varied life began in the city of Shiraz, where he was born in 1956. In the 1970s, he participated in protests against the authoritarian rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi; in the 80s, he volunteered in the Iran-Iraq war; and, since 2009, he has served as the chief editor for Asr-e Pandishanbeh
), an Iranian literary magazine. According to Harvard University's biographical note, "this magazine was banned in Iran; in response, Mandanipour has taken considerable risks by speaking out against this injustice, giving interviews to Voice of America