Friday, 5 January 2018

#WorldReads - Five Books From Iran

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post.

Click the book titles or cover images to visit their Literary Flits book review pages. Or click the Amazon links to buy your own copy. (The Amazon links are affiliate links so I would earn a small commission from your purchase.)

This month's country is Iran! Iranian or Persian literature is one of the oldest literary traditions in the world with a body of work spanning over two and a half milennia. I have included a fascinating History of Modern Iran in my selection here as well as a memoir, novels and a short story collection.

Although The Saturday Night School Of Beauty is set in Buenos Aires, we are presented with very little to identify Argentina. Instead, through the conversations and reminiscences of a disparate group of Iranian exiles, we learn of Persian culture and tradition, and how political upheavals caused chaos and loss in their lives. The overwhelming feeling I came away with, having finished the book, was that of homesickness and longing.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

I was attracted to Reading Lolita In Tehran by its promise of revealing life within Iran and also by the Margaret Atwood quote on the front of 'A book lover's tale'. Published as memoir, Nafisi does state right at the start that she had to change names and events in order to protect those remaining in Iran therefore it is hard to tell how much is actually true and how much flavoured by truth but essentially fiction. What is overwhelmingly apparent throughout is Nafisi's obsessive love for the greats of Western fiction and the energy she devotes to spreading this love as far as she can.

In The Twinkling Of An Eye by Seyed Mehdi Shojaee

A collection of eighteen short stories, the book is quite a fast read, but delves deeply into universally important themes of love, relationships, personal self-belief, and family. Although Shojaee's characters are from a very different country and culture to my own, I could easily empathise with their stories and understand what this accomplished storyteller wanted to impart.

Through the Sad Wood Our Corpses Will Hang by Ava Farmehri

I was intrigued by this novel's poetic title and its almost macabre cover art and so had high hopes of it before I began to read. I am glad to be able to say that I wasn't at all disappointed! Through the Sad Wood Our Corpses Will Hang is a beautiful, unpredictable story of frustrated humanity. Narrated in the first person by imprisoned Sheyda, we see Iranian society as she does - in all its complexities and from the viewpoint of an eternal outsider.

Iran: A Modern History by Abbas Amanat

Clocking in at a thousand pages, Iran: A Modern History is easy three times as long as books I usually choose so it is with all credit to Abbas Amanat's engaging writing that I happily immersed myself in this history for the best part of a week. I was fascinated to discover the rich history of this ancient nation and, although I have already forgotten many names, I do feel that I have a stronger understanding of Iran's culture and her people as a result.

That's it for January's WorldReads from Iran. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Iranian-authored books! If you fancy buying any of the five I have suggested, clicking through the links from this blog to do so would mean I earn a small commission payment.

You can join in my WorldReads Challenge at any time! Simply read 1 or more books from a different country each month, write a post about it/them, grab the button below and add it to your post. Don't forget to pop back here and Comment your link so I can visit!

Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited' America, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, ScotlandSouth Africa, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.

In February I will be highlighting five books by Finnish authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!


  1. I'm really interested in reading Iran: A Modern History! I read Children of Paradise by Laura Secor a while back which is also a history of Iran (from about 1979-present) and ever since then I've been really interested in the history of the Middle East, Iran specifically. I'll definitely be checking this out soon!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. I hope you enjoy it. I need to take a look at the Laura Secor :-)