cover image Censoring an Iranian Love Story

Censoring an Iranian Love Story

Shahriar Mandanipour, , trans. from the Farsi by Sara Khalili. . Knopf, $25 (295pp) ISBN 978-0-307-26978-2

The first of Mandanipour’s novels to appear in English follows an ambitious but censored Iranian writer as he attempts to write a Nobel-caliber love story that will pass the censors’ inspection. As a professional writer, narrator Shahriar has known his censor, nicknamed Pofiry Petrovich, for long enough that he can anticipate his objections. Shahriar’s work in progress, which unfolds as a subnarrative within the novel, concerns Dara and Sara, teenagers named after prerevolutionary Iranian children’s book characters, as they explore sexual and emotional love in a nation that forbids physical or social interaction between young people of the opposite sex. As the couple’s love grows, the self-censoring writer strikes out whole passages in anticipation of his censor’s objections. All the while, the writer converses with his censor, his characters, the reader and himself to create an intriguing postmodern, multifaceted romance steeped in Iranian culture. Kudos to Khalili for a wonderfully fluid translation of an intricately layered text. (May)