Booming Sales and Nobel Prize

 

The cultural establishments of Tehran usually organise their programs for autumn when university students return to the capital. The literary sessions, book publications and most other cultural activities are usually focused on the months of autumn to avoid the seasonal recession of cultural market in summer. 

Revolution Street in Tehran which houses not only University of Tehran, as the oldest Iranian university, but also a long row of bookshops opposite of UT’s main entrance, is booming nowadays with the arrival of students who mostly look for their compulsory books for the new semester. Considering the low national rate of reading in Iran (about two minutes per day) and the low quantity of copies (usually around a thousand copies per title), one might be surprised by the crowded bookshops. 

Among the things that can slightly affect the book market positively in Iran is the announcement of the Nobel Prize winner in literature. Since the announcement of Patrick Modiano as the winner of 2014 Literary Nobel Prize, the translation of his books got in the bestsellers lists. The unofficial bookshops' bestseller lists show Modiano's books usually in their top ten titles. Sixteen translations of his books have been published in Iran, some of the titles with more than one translation. Sasan Tabbasomi's translations of Rue des Boutiques Obscures (1978) and Dans Le Café de La Jeunesse Perdue (2007), Arash Naghibian's of Les Boulevards de ceinture (1972) and Mahsa Abhari's of Accident Nocturne (2003) are currently some of Modiano's bestsellers in Iran.

Last month, a few Iranian writers including Houshang Moradi Kermani, had a story reading session in Bonn.  The latest edition of the Bonn literary sessions focused on Moradi Kermani's works, who mostly writes for children and young adults. Kermani is most famous for his The Tales of Madjid (Ghesseh-ha-ye Madjid) which have also been adapted into a popular TV series. Apart from Kermani, Afshin Shahneh-Tabaar, the head of Sham-o-Meh publication and the only representative of the Iranian private sector in the Frankfurt Book Fair, was also present. 

Germany has a long tradition of hosting prominent Iranian writers and poets, including Ahmad Shamloo and Houshang Golshiri, and many exiled or immigrant Iranian writers. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the books that have not been approved for publication in Iran have been usually published in Germany, mostly by Iranian funded publishing houses. Recently, a new project, Ba Ham Networking, was launched to support the publication of banned Iranian books.

Since the beginning of Hasan Rouhani's administration in Iran, expectations were raised for improvements and relaxation in cultural spheres; the hope has not been totally realized but some of the previously banned titles have been given approval to be published; among them, Lili Farhadpour's The 4th Line of Subway (Saales Publication) which was waiting for four years to be approved. Farhadpour, a writer and journalist who was arrested during the post-election demonstrations, tells her story through the experiences of three generations of women under interrogation.

The 'Mehregan Literary' biannual award also announced its shortlist after some delay. The selection was made out of 143 novels and 168 collections of short stories that were published in 2011-12. The 14th Mehregan Literary Award is supported by the private sector and has a history of controversies. In one of the earlier ceremonies, two of the winning writers refused to appear on stage together to receive their awards. Wandering Idol by Marjan Basiri, Seconds by MohammadReza Fayyaz, The Deads of Maurice Island by Farhad Keshvari and I Love Manchester United by Mehdi Yazdani Khorram are among a dozen shortlisted works. In the short stories section, Today Saturday by Yusef Ansari and They Are Not Less Than Fish by Shiva Moghanloo are among shortlisted titles.

 

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