Monday, August 3, 2009

Censoring an Iranian Love Story

The premise of the Shahriar Mandanipour’s novel Censoring an Iranian Love Story is intriguing. The narrator is an Iranian author, and the book alternates between the narrator’s thoughts, the story he is writing, and the story he wishes he could write. Everything the narrator thinks and writes is influenced by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, which must approve (and will censor) the novel before it can be released for publication.

The narrator’s protagonists are Dara and Sara. Dara is a former political prisoner. Sara is a university student. They develop their relationship over banned books and try to navigate a romance under the restrictions placed by the Ministry.

As it progresses, the novel deconstructs. The line between the narrator and the story he’s writing, or wishes he was writing, blurs. Considering the restrictions Mandanipour, himself, is under as an Iranian writer, the novel is quite remarkable.

After living in eastern Turkey for a year, I was fascinated by the novel and often panicked by the possibilities. I struggle to thrive in a conservative Turkish society. I can’t even imagine life under the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and I hope I am never forced to find out.

1 comment:

Elaine said...
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