The novel entwines two equally powerful narratives. A writer named Shahriar - the author's fictional alter ego - has struggled for years against the all-powerful censor at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Now, on the threshold of 50, tired of writing dark and bitter stories, he has come to realize that the "world around us has enough death and destruction and sorrow." He sets out instead to write a bewitching love story, one set in present-day Iran. It may be his greatest challenge yet.
Beautiful black-haired Sara and fiercely proud Dara fall in love in the dusty stacks of the library, where they pass secret messages to each other encoded in the pages of their favorite books. But Iran's Campaign Against Social Corruption forbids their being alone together. Defying the state and their disapproving parents, they meet in secret amid the bustling streets, Internet cafés, and lush private gardens of Tehran.
Yet writing freely of Sara and Dara's encounters, their desires, would put Shahriar in as much peril as his lovers. Thus we read not just the scenes Shahriar has written but also the sentences and words he's crossed out or merely imagined, knowing they can never be published.
Laced with surprising humor and irony, at once provocative and deeply moving, Censoring an Iranian Love Story takes us unforgettably to the heart of one of the world's most alluring yet least understood cultures. It is an ingenious, wholly original novel - a literary tour de force that is a triumph of art and spirit.
©2009 Knopf; (P)2009 Random House
"Kudos to Khalili for a wonderfully fluid translation of an intricately layered text." (Publishers Weekly )
This book blew me away! I love the how the writer so skillfully tears the veil between his characters, his own process, and the craft of writing. The text is rich with cultural references and reflections on other iconic writers' contributions.
I would describe this work as Vonnegutian style with a Persian flair. I love the Persian myths, imagery and poems are woven into the story. It also reminded me a great deal of the oppressive and futile atmosphere of "The Lives of Others."
Sara would have to be the favorite character representing women's struggles. She is the wisest and most grounded and also the most oppressed character for simply being a woman in the Islamic Republic. Women's Rights are well-highlighted in this book. Mr. Petrovich, in charge of censorship, is also quite intriguing in his ideology and omnipresence throughout the story.
I wanted to take my time and listen to this story a little at a time. This is such an unusual and fascinating work and it deserves all your attention, not the type you listen to before bed. This book will not impress the average reader as one has to get stretched beyond anything they have read to be able to enjoy this book.
I highly recommend this book! The female narrator could have used better coaching in the Persian accent (she sounded like she was an Arab character), but overall the narration was good.
At first it seemed like we would gain interesting insights, and that was true, but then they were just repeated over and over. The story never seemed to go anywhere and in the end just seemed to stop. I figured out early on that we were supposed be looking for symbolic underlying meanings and perhaps they were flying over my head. It seemed to be one of those books for a lit class to analyze or for a jaded reviewer to enjoy because it was very creative in its approach. But for casual listening as we ride in our car not so much.
I listened to this straight through twice consecutively. It is a marvelous, rich and clever book the that draws upon Iran's rich literary history to depict the difficult lives of today's Iranians;creatives & ordinary people with ordinary wishes for love & belonging. Loved it more upon second reading.
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