Island of Bewilderment is a recent English translation of Jazire-ye Sargardāni, a historical novel by the late Simin Daneshvar, originally in Persian and published in 1992. Daneshvar (1921- 2012) was considered Iran’s first female novelist. Her books were about the lives of ordinary people, especially women, through the lens of political and social events in the country. She was also a renowned translator and counted Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard among her translations into Persian. She was the wife of the famous social critic and writer, Jalal Ale-Ahmad, also a writer of acclaim.
The Silk Road has long caught the imagination of travelers and has hence been the subject of interest by many writers, the majority of whom at least in English have hailed from the West. Iftikhar Malik, a professor of modern history at Bath Spa University, in his 2020 book, The Silk Road and Beyond, offers a personal perspective on contemporary travels as a Muslim scholar to Central Asia and beyond. Malik draws on four decades of travel and writes from the lived experiences of a curious academic.
Hafez in Love is an English translation of the 2004 novel Hafez-e-nashenideh pand (literally “Hafez, Heedless of Advice”) by the late author Iraj Pezeshkzad who was one of Iran’s best-known contemporary authors. He is best remembered for his satirical 1973 novel, My Uncle Napoleon which was later made into a successful television series. In Hafez in Love, Pezeshkzad—through a creative engagement with the poetry of Hafez and his contemporaries, as well as an imaginative use of historical fiction—brings the literary scene of 14th-century Iran to life.
“Ancient Iran and the Classical World”, an exhibition currently running at the J Paul Getty Museum, is the second in a series that examines how ancient Greece and Rome interacted with the other civilizations of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and beyond. A sequel to the inaugural exhibition, “Beyond the Nile”, the current exhibition considers the significance of ancient Persia (Iran) and follows interactions between Persia and the Classical world from the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) through the Arab invasion in 638 BC.
Set in an imaginary Eastern land, Hammad Rind’s Four Dervishes centers on four strangers as they gather around a fireplace to exchange stories while taking shelter from the rain. The book merges magical realism with dastan, a form of oral storytelling with origins in medieval Iran: the book’s title is borrowed from the “Tale of the Four Dervishes”, a dastan by the 13th century Indo-Persian Sufi poet Amir Khusro.
Qaraar Ali is a young craftsman in love with the beautiful Abeerah, cherished daughter of a General in the Mughal army. A wanderer, he seeks the company of poets and spends his time visiting the shrines of 18th century Delhi. Trouble is brewing as Persia’s Nadir Shah is gathering a large army and heading towards Delhi. In a few catastrophic moments, Qaraar’s life will be turned upside down. The once idyllic, bustling streets he knew and loved, become tragic scenes of chaos, bloodshed and destruction.