The master of Iranian letters tells a daring story about a war correspondent trying to report the truth about life under a totalitarian regime.
In Iran, it's nearly impossible to write history.
On a strategic hill overlooking the frontier, Iraqi and Iranian troops battle over a reservoir tank, an indispensable source of water. The troops are thirsty and at the brink of madness. Nearby, an Iraqi journalist covering the battle is given a tour of a Iraqi military prison. He is informed by the major in charge of what is expected of him: he is to write a fabricated report about a murder that has occurred in the camp, in hopes of demoralizing enemy soldiers.
With his government demanding he write the story, the journalist finds himself doing something that's been nearly impossible for the last thirty years: trying to write an honest history of Iran.
Told in kaleidoscopic style that weaves between the ongoing battle and the struggles of the reporter, Besmal is rich with dark humor and surreal images of battle. It blurs the boundaries between Iran and Iraq, as the two nations battle over identity, history and senseless, bloody war. And it shows, once again, why critics say Mahmoud Dowlatabadi is the most important — and fearless — Iranian writer of the last century.
Praise for The Colonel:
"Mr. Dowlatabadi draws a detailed, realist picture of Iranian life, especially that of the rural poor, in language that is complex and lyrical, rather than simplistic." —The Financial Times
"A demanding and richly composed book by a novelist who stands apart." —Kirkus Reviews
"The Colonel is a remarkable and important book ... a masterpiece." —The Globe and Mail
"It's about time everyone even remotely interested in Iran read this novel." —The Independent