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Censoring an Iranian Love Story

Written by Shahriar Mandanipour
Translated by Sara Khalili


Censoring an Iranian Love Story
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Category: Fiction - Literary
Imprint: Vintage
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: June 2010
Price: $15.95
Can. Price: $18.95
ISBN: 978-0-307-39042-4 (0-307-39042-X)
Pages: 304
Also available as an unabridged audiobook download and an eBook.



 
If conducting a love affair in modern Iran is not a simple undertaking, then telling the story of that love may be even more difficult. In a country where mere proximity between a man and a woman may be the prologue to deadly sin, where illicit passion is punished by imprisonment, or even death, telling that most redemptive of human narratives becomes the greatest literary challenge. Shahriar Mandanipour evokes a pair of young lovers who find each other—despite surreal persecution and repressive parents—through coded messages and internet chat rooms; and triumphantly their story entwines with an account of their creator’s struggle. Inventive, darkly comic and profoundly touching, Censoring an Iranian Love Story celebrates both the unquenchable power of the written word and a love that is doomed, glorious, and utterly real.

“Exciting. . . . Powerful. . . . Mandanipour’s writing is exuberant, bonhomous, clever, profuse with puns and literary-political references.” —James Wood, The New Yorker

“A clever Rubik’s Cube of a story, [and] a haunting portrait of life in the Islamic Republic of Iran. . . . An Escher-like meditation on the interplay of life and art, reality and fiction. . . . At its best, Censoring an Iranian Love Story becomes a Kundera-like rumination on philosophy and politics [that] playfully investigates the possibilities and limits of storytelling.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“A love story that is convincingly, achingly impossible in a place where men and women cannot even look at each other in public. The effect (as every good Victorian understood) is deliriously sensual prose. . . . Mandanipour has triumphed.” —Los Angeles Times

“Wry, playful. . . . Reminiscent of Milan Kundera, this is a lively account of life and letters in contemporary Iran.” —Financial Times

“In this brilliantly conceived and cleverly written novel, characters and author together and separately act and write with sly purpose, disguising and disavowing their subversive ends—to live, love, and create in today’s repressive Iranian society.” —The Boston Globe

“Devious and engaging. . . . A droll, even cheerful portrait of totalitarian craziness.” —Bloomberg News

“Not your typical love story. . . . A meditation on culture, modern Iran, and the power of what is left out. . . . By the end of this witty, hyper-intelligent riff on life under a repressive regime, the writer has demonstrated the mental and emotional contortions necessary to survive.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“Telling amorous tales in post-Islamic-revolution Iran is tricky, if not downright dangerous, but [Mandanipour] is up to the task. . . . And as much as humor dominates the book, it quietly gets at something else—the omnipotence of tyranny.” —The Miami Herald

“A very special novel—a passionate, inventive and humorous exposure of the stupidity and cruelty of a society ruled by fear.” —The Times (London)

“Neither sentimental nor nostalgic, romanticized nor demonized. Looking at his country and its inhabitants through a fiction writer’s authentic spectacles, Mandanipour has written a novel that is witty, smart, funny, and honest. It is an important book for our times.” —Rabih Alameddine, author of The Hakawati

“A brilliant novel about the complexities of writing and publishing in Iran. It will help to further understanding of the frustrating and sometimes perilous situation of the book industry in a country where copyright is not respected, where writers struggle desperately to publish and can be jailed simply for exercising their imaginations.” —The Guardian (London)

“Anything but traditional. . . . A Farsi Fahrenheit 451, written by a postmodern Beckett. . . . In this Iranian setting, love comes not through happy endings but the unwritten text.” —Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

“Rich and riveting. . . . Reminiscent of Mario Vargas Llosa’s Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. . . . [Mandanipour has] the potential to create a genre of Persian literature that could breach the gap in literary sensibilities that separates readers from vastly different traditions.” —The Irish Times

“Filled with marvels and revolutions, political absurdity, and cinematic exploration, Censoring an Iranian Love Story is much more than a fractured love story. It’s a conversation with art, tyranny, and morality, a syncopated meditation on popular culture and ancient history. Shahriar Mandanipour’s wonderful, digressive novel shimmers with the power of the unwritten, the suggested, and the excised. . . . An exciting and original work—a beautiful novel.” —Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Crescent

“The ancient poets conjured eroticism in terms of flowers and ripe fruits, but how can lovers express themselves in modern Iran? This is Mandanipour’s question as he searches to unite his smitten characters—characters who, unnervingly, seem to have ideas of their own. . . . This important, timely novel is sharp, playful and zesty with life.” —Daily Mail (London)

“A powerful, provocative and timely novel.” —The Observer (London)

“I absolutely loved Censoring an Iranian Love Story. Insightful and sensual, humorous and sly, allegorical and literary, it is an endless pleasure: a celebration of love and the written word from a part of the world where both still matter.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 
Shahriar Mandanipour has won numerous awards for his novels, short stories, and nonfiction in Iran, although he was unable to publish his fiction from 1992 until 1997 as a result of censorship. He came to the United States in 2006 as the third International Writers Project Fellow at Brown University. He is currently a visiting scholar at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His work has appeared in PEN America, The Literary Review, and The Kenyon Review.

Visit the author's website at www.mandanipour.net.





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