Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Censoring an Iranian Love Story-Shahriar Mandipout

Censoring an Iranian Love Story
Shahriar Mandipout
Knopf, May 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9780307269782

As Shahriar turns fifty, he is tired of his futile attempts at writing a strong novel only to have the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance censor the guts of each one. It is so bad he knows exactly what Pofiry Petrovich, as he calls his official hound, will find objectionable, which usually guts the story line.

Shahriar decides to try an upbeat optimistic tale, a love story set in modern day Iran. He begins writing how Sara and Dara meet at the library and fell in love. However, Iranian Campaign Against Social Corruption forbids this couple being alone; their parents object to their being alone; and other family and friends also oppose their being alone. Still they defy the government, the religious leaders, and their parents by serendipitously meeting wherever they can. However, as he writes his classic, Shahriar realizes how much trouble he could be in; he begins censoring passages, ripping out the heart of his novel. Yet he still tries to sneak some scenes of the couple together without chaperones into the plot (the theme of his novel) by having his lead couple suffer remorse and ruin at the end hopefully making it morally acceptable by the Iranian literary cop.

This translation will be considered one of the top satires of the year as Shahriar Mandipout uses censorship to tell a story of romance in modern day Iran, but could be in almost any place as for instance the political corporate media complex assaults those with an opposing view. The story line is super as Shahriar the fictional author edits his work by crossing out what he expects deleted, which guts his writing. Fans will relish this excellent use of romance to lampoon censorship.

Harriet Klausner

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