For young readers

'Ancient Iran': the story behind the pictorial book

01-Dec-2008 (6 comments)
This project started more than a decade ago when I was searching the public libraries for books for children on Iranian culture and history. While there was ample information on many ancient civilizations like Egypt, China, India, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome, there was virtually nothing to be found on Iran. I was saddened by the lack of material and always dreamed of the day all kinds of books on Iran would be available for all young readers around the world. My dream was realized mainly because of the revolutionary new technology that has emerged with digital photography and new advances in book publishing. Thirty years ago publishing a pictorial history with 264 high quality images would have been the task for professional and established publishers with resources and lots of money>>>


Reading Kafka at Harvard (3)

"Thou shall not respect his human dignity, crucify him", that was the message

27-Nov-2008 (5 comments)
If Kafka’s The Trial is about the estrangement of man from his liberty and the de-humanization and criminalization of human spirit by the fiat of modern system of criminal justice, then the lesson to be drawn from my similar story of false arrest and imprisonment on purely fictitious and trumped up charges by the campus police at Harvard University is, indeed, how the net of this system has expanded since Kafka’s days, enveloping the larger institutions of civil society, including the academic institutions that, nominally, ought to reflect and nurture the essence of human spirit and, yet, as my case vividly demonstrates, are also apt to clamp down, oppress and repress it, by various methods, often through more subtle, softer and more gentle manners than the outright criminalization of dissent and the resort to vile, naked, and unbounded cruelty>>>


Reading Kafka at Harvard (2)

Conversation With A Harvard Detective

24-Nov-2008 (12 comments)
At day break on Wednesday, January 17, 1996. A tremor shaking the old house to the roots I thought, but the surge of sounds drilling into my peaceful sleep bespoke of an impending crisis of a different kind, one that would instantly transform my life for years to come by imposing on me all the existential horror of a Kafkasque nightmare. Luckily, that night my wife Sylvia and our little Sabrina were staying with my mother-in law who was recuperating from an ice-related car accident. Winter had arrived in full force that January. Lying in bed with the bedside lamp on, I didn’t move but tried to grasp what was happening. A luminous fresco of clouds was gazing through the bay windows; expectant mother nature had found an empty theater to mount a small absurdist play. The heavy knocks on the door sounded as if I had been hit in the head.>>>


Deliciously complicated

A stranger's intuitive interpretation of your culture can apparently often open one's own eyes

24-Nov-2008 (2 comments)
The love affair with the story in the game of Prince of Persia led the creator to explore areas of the story that he had always wanted to do, but never got around to it. Until now. The adaptation of his story in the form of the Graphic Novel, enabled him to flesh out some of the more dramatic details as well as to do some research into the culture and it's vast and rich history. It has resulted in an outstanding new story, which is a unique adaptation taking various elements of both ancient Persia, as well as the more important inclusion of our traditional character and culture. But as in the story, all is not what it seems and there are mysteriously provident strings being pulled from afar.>>>


Everyday realities

Afsaneh: Short Stories by Iranian Women

This book of 20 unusual short stories by Iranian women edited and translated by the 48-year old journalist, Kaveh Basmenji and spanning several decades, is deeply melancholic with its spartan prose. A profound sadness with no respect for the etiquette of pretense, hovers like a funeral wake in calling out for each story's theme, no matter the fictitious woman's joys or sorrows. A poetic atmosphere, designed to haunt and trigger brooding reflections to its sharp introspection is what lends the reader, its lavish beauty. No doubt, the English-Language collection has been translated as closely as possible from the Persian and so there is no boastful writerly approach or superficial sophisticated style one way or the other>>>


Waiting for an Ordinary Day

A personal diary from Iraq

06-Nov-2008 (3 comments)
My first glimpses of Baghdad are burned deep into memory, as if they belong to a vanished place. Palm groves swish in a soft autumn breeze, as the muddy waters of the Tigris River stream through the city. The green riverbank is lined with shabby fish restaurants, and the skyline is dotted with an architectural variety of marble palaces, blue-domed mosques, gigantic statues made of steel, colonial houses with engraved balconies, and multistory, seventies-style office buildings. The roads, wide and well paved, are jammed with cars. In a crowded market, peddlers push wooden carts full of fruit and fresh herbs, and a bookstore is stocked with old translated copies of Russian literature and Shakespeare’s poetry>>>


The Golden Age of Persia

Considered by many scholars to be the period prior to 1,220 CE

29-Oct-2008 (50 comments)
The Arab Islamic conquests of the seventh century were of the same magnitude as the Persian conquests of 500 BC, Macedonian’s of 300 BC, Rome’s in 100 BC and Sassanians of 200 CE. The united and faithful barbaric tribes of Arabia were able to defeat two glorious civilizations of Persia and Byzantine, and took over an immense empire stretching from Morocco to India. The Arabic language grew from a limited Semitic tongue to dominate the Middle East, and Islam reshaped the Eastern cultural and religious outlook. Sadly, western Iran was decimated by the Arab invasion, but the Persian culture survived in the Eastern provinces (especially Khorasan), where there was less resistance from the general populace and the Parthian minded nobility.>>>


The Story of Mohammad

The revolutionary, warrior and sovereign

16-Oct-2008 (135 comments)
Mohammad worked for nearly a decade in the Roman trade route and became very familiar with both the Christian and the Jewish traditions of the Near East. As an intelligent young man, although illiterate, he absorbed most of the biblical stories, which put his life in a much more appealing prospective. He found solace in the hardship stories of Job and Moses, but perhaps was most influenced by Abraham, a Semitic prophet who recanted his own town and traditions, to build a new Utopia and create a new way of life. At the age of 40, after marrying a wealthy business woman, Mohammad found some spare time to contemplate his past and future, his beliefs and doubts.>>>


Agents of change

Excerpts from "Young and Defiant in Tehran"

In Tehran, the Iranian Artists’ Forum (Khaneye Honarmandan-e Iran) is the best location to observe the curiosity of the youth. Weekly courses or lectures are usually packed with young people who come to listen and discuss art and philosophy as well as other cultural and social issues. Moreover statistics show the considerable amount of translations of modern philosophy. For instance, all the books of Friedrich Nietzsche have been translated into Persian and have gone into multiple printings since the 1990s. The same holds true for many of the other philosophers of modernity. There have been more Persian translations of Kant in the past decade than in any other language. This is Sepehr’s and a part of his generation’s expectation of modernity. >>>


Eminent Persians

Individuals who shaped Iran’s modern political history

13-Oct-2008 (57 comments)
As the 25th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution approached, Abbas Milani realized that very little, if any, attention had been given to the entire prerevolutionary generation. Political upheavals and a tradition of neglecting the history of past regimes have resulted in a cultural memory loss, erasing the contributions of a generation of individuals. Eminent Persians seeks to rectify that loss. Consisting of 150 profiles of the most important innovators in Iran between World War II and the Islamic Revolution, the book includes politicians, entrepreneurs, poets, artists, and thinkers who brought Iran into the modern era with brilliant success and sometimes terrible consequences>>>


Transit Tehran

Viewing Iran from the ground up

13-Oct-2008 (one comment)
Things are never what they seem in the art of Sadegh Tirafkan, the new feminist journalism of Asieh Amini, and the romance Shi'a-style by new fiction talent Alireza Mahmoodi- Iranmehr. Other contributors include Newsha Tavakolian, named Best Young Photographer of 2006 by National Geographic, Abbas Kowsari, Javad Montazeri and Omid Salehi, who have continued to document the social transformation of their country in the face of mass closures of newspapers and magazines by the government. Above all, Transit Tehran celebrates the country's long tradition of artistic and cultural resistance that has influenced young Iranians, noticeably in the work of veteran editor and journalist Masoud Behnoud, photojournalist Kaveh Golestan, premier satirist and illustrator Ardeshir Mohassess, and photographer Mohsen Rastani.>>>


Causes and effects

The WAY of the WORLD: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism

28-Sep-2008 (one comment)
From Pulitzer Prize—winning journalist and bestselling author Ron Suskind comes a startling look at how America lost its way and at the nation's struggle, day by day, to reclaim the moral authority upon which its survival depends. From the White House to Downing Street, from the fault–line countries of South Asia to the sands of Guantánamo, Suskind offers an astonishing story that connects world leaders to the forces waging today's shadow wars and to the next generation of global citizens. Tracking down truth and hope within the Beltway and far beyond it, Suskind delivers historic disclosures with this emotionally stirring and strikingly original portrait of the post-9/11 world>>>


Portrait of an Empire

Responding to a dire need of much more in depth study of Sasanian Iran and its history

25-Sep-2008 (6 comments)
Now historians have made attempts at reclaiming the history of ancient Iran and making it a matter for those well exercised in the historical approach to ancient times. I myself have very much tried to engage in the study of ancient Iranian history in dialogue with the historians of Rome, India, Asia and Caucasus, as well as those working on the economic, cultural and social history of the world or those interested in the roots and precedents of Islamic history and late antiquity. It is only in this way that ancient Iranian history can be released from philology and archaeology, and at the same time take advantage of the sources of knowledge brought about by these fields>>>


Shall we dance?

Shall we dance?

Photos from: "My Life as A Persian Ballerina"

by Haideh Ahmadzadeh
20-Sep-2008 (9 comments)



Shall we dance?

"My Life as A Persian Ballerina"

20-Sep-2008 (3 comments)
Born in Tehran in 1930 into a mixed family of a Tartar mother and an Azerbayjani father, Haideh Ahmadzadeh started dancing at the age of seven in a country that was struggling to keep up with modern times. Dancing for girls was not an accepted or desirable occupation. Her love of dance made her overcome many obstacles and with the approval and backing of her mother and later her husband Nejad, she got to the top of her profession. With a great deal of hard work, discipline and drive, Haideh and Nejad founded a Ballet Academy, Iranian National Ballet Company and Iranian Folk Dance, Music and Song Group. They performed regularly for State guests at home and abroad, their travels wrought with a great deal of incident and adventure>>>