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“Dowlatabadi draws a detailed, realist picture of Iranian life. . . in language that is complex and lyrical.”
In the midst of the Iran — Iraq War, an Iraqi journalist is given a tour of a military prison. The Major in charge of the camp informs the writer of what is expected: he is to write a fabricated report about a murder that has occurred in the camp, with the aim of demoralizing Iranian soldiers.
Reluctant to write the report, the writer spends a long night talking and drinking with the Major and detailing a work of fiction he is composing about a group of soldiers trapped on a hill, dying of thirst as they battle for a water tank with a group of enemy soldiers perched on the opposite hill. The tank remains undamaged, but neither group has a hope of reaching it without being killed.
In a narrative riddled with surreal images, shifting perspectives, and dark humor, Mahmoud Dowlatabadi — widely acknowledged as the most important living Iranian writer — offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of the warring countries as he questions the meaning of national identity and does something that has been nearly impossible to do in Iran for the last century: tell a true story.
Perhaps the most important work in modern Iranian literature, this starkly beautiful novel examines the trials of an impoverished woman and her children living in a remote village in Iran, after the unexplained disappearance of her husband, Soluch.
Lyrical yet unsparing, the novel examines her life as she contends with the political corruption, authoritarianism, and poverty of the village. It follows her vacillations between love for Soluch and anger at his absence, and her struggle to raise her children without their father.
The novel critically evokes the unfulfilled aspirations of modern Iran, portraying a society caught between a past and a future that seem equally weighed down by injustice.
This landmark novel — the first ever written in the everyday language of the Iranian people — revolutionized Persian literature in its beautiful and daring portrayal of the life of a marginal woman and her struggle to survive.
Winner of the 2013 Jan Michalski Prize
Longlististed for the Man Asian Literary Prize
A new novel by the master of Iranian letters that directly engages politics in Iran today
Ten years in the writing, this fearless novel — so powerful it’s banned in Iran — tells the stirring story of a tortured people forced to live under successive oppressive regimes.
It begins on a pitch black, rainy night, when there’s a knock on the Colonel’s door. Two policemen have come to summon him to collect the tortured body of his youngest daughter. The Islamic Revolution is devouring its own children. Set over the course of a single night, the novel follows the Colonel as he pays a bribe to recover his daughter’s body and then races to bury her before sunrise.
As we watch him struggle with the death of his innocent child, we find him wracked with guilt and anger over the condition of his country, particularly as represented by his own children: a son who fell during the 1979 revolution; another driven to madness after being tortured during the Shah’s regime; a third who went off to martyr himself fighting for the ayatollahs in their war against Iraq; one murdered daughter, and another who survives by being married to a cruel opportunist.
An incredibly powerful novel about nation, history and family, The Colonel is a startling illumination of the consequences of years of oppression and political upheaval in Iran.
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