Shahrnush Parsipur was born in Iran in 1946. She published her first short stories in literally magazines at the age of sixteen, and went on to write essays, story collections, and several novels. She was arrested for the first time in 1974, by the Shah's intelligence agency, and would be jailed three additional times under the Islamic Republic. While incarcerated she wrote the first part of her masterpiece "Touba and the meaning of Night", published by the Feminist Press in its first English-language edition in 2004. Now living and writing in exile in the United States, Parsipur is the first recipient of Brown University 's International Writing Fellowship, designed to provide support for established creative writers who find it difficult to practice free expression in their homeland. She has also written one of the most important Iranian novels "Women without Men" turned into a film by Shirin Neshat.
Shokufeh Kavani is an Iranian contemporary painter, translator and nurse living in Sydney. She is the first Iranian-born Australian recipient of the Edna Ryan Awards, 2010 in the category of Art, bestowed by the New South Wales Women's Electoral Lobby. Her humanitarian efforts earned Kavani nominations for the "Australian of the Year Award" in 2005, 2007, 2008 and also in 2013, plus for the Pride of Australian Medal in 2005 and 2007 by The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Three books translated by her already published in Iran:
Whirling Dervishes by Ira Shems Friedlander, "Who am I? The Diary of Mary Talence" by Anita Heisss and "I am not racist, but..." by Anita Heiss.
The Dog and the Long Winter Synopsis
This book which I have translated, “The Dog and the Long Winter” was written by Mrs Shahrnush Parsipur, one of the greatest and most controversial female writers in modern Iran.
The first time I read this book I froze with recognition. It was as if someone had unveiled the deepest part of my heart and could see what was happening in my personal private life. While there are differences which I haven’t personally experienced, the presence of HOSSEIN who is one of the main characters (and brother of the narrator HOORI) struck a chord which I found deeply touching. As a young, intelligent, energetic brother he forms the personality of this young girl, trapped between tradition and modernity,
A few people played this role in my life. I would like to call them the ‘Lost Generation’ who dedicated their knowledge and life so that we could learn. So many of them have been killed or have disappeared as political prisoners during the Shah’s regime and also that of the Islamic government. The Lost Generation have ensured that the new Iranian young generation are aware of the things which are happening in our country and in the world in general; although it faces the great challenge of achieving democracy, due to all the current problems. We still have a long way to go, but I have great hopes.
In the haunting prose of this sensitively crafted novel, the social life of Iran is skilfully portrayed through narrator, Hoori, a girl on the verge of womanhood. The story unfolds through her observations and sensibility. Hoori draws the reader into her sensory world where not all is as it seems on the surface. Where to upset the social order can lead to severe repercussions. Hoori must learn not only the laws set out in black and white but also the unwritten social laws learnt through interpreting gestures and glances; eavesdropping and gossip. Hoori, like Hossein, is an outsider; an intelligent observer who through her brother Hossein learns to think in more depth and to question the world around her. But Hossein pays the price for being different. When he is arrested, Hoori’s world and that of her family falls apart, nothing can ever be as it was before Hossein’s disappearance.
Characters include Hoori’s parents, siblings, extended family, friends and neighbours; as well as the characters conjured up in Hossein’s and Hoori’s fevered imaginations.
The narrative opens with Hossein’s death. The stories of Hoori, Hossein and other characters are woven into the tale of events leading up to Hossein’s strange though not entirely unexpected death. The personality and daily life of the narrator, Hoori, is vividly depicted as she describes the lives of those around her. Political overtones are skilfully woven in and shown through the effect they have on the characters. As Hoori matures, she questions and rebels against the status quo; her ideas and actions cause ruptures that can’t be repaired. Due to the pressures and constraints that surround her, Hoori’s personality gradually unravels and disintegrates; culminating in a surreal and eerie metaphysical experience. The poignant yet powerful ending rivals Rushdie’s stream-of-consciousness prose.
I found this novel absolutely mesmerising and decided to translate it, in order for the people of the western world to have a better idea of the modern Iran and our struggle for achieving democracy and freedom, especially among females. I wish I would have written this book myself.