Translated by Salar Abdoh;
Edited by Salar Abdoh
Review by Verna Suit
Akashic Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781617753008
Date: 07 October 2014 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This intriguing addition to publisher Akashic's series of noir anthologies sheds light on a country that has been largely closed to Westerners for 35 years. For the people of Iran, the Islamic Revolution of 1979 was "a sort of Year One, after which everything strange became law."
The 15 stories, all by Iranian writers, were nearly all written in Farsi and translated into English by editor Salar Abdoh. A glossary at the back of the book helps put some of the Farsi words that are left in the original language into context. For the most part, all the stories take place in the sprawling capital city of Tehran. The last one, "The Gravedigger's Kaddish" by Gina B. Nahai, is partially set in a metropolitan area that ex-patriate Iranians refer to as 'Tehrangeles'.
"The imposed propriety of the mosque" is a pervasive influence on all the protagonists' lives. Revenge is a frequent theme, for what has been taken from them or for what they have been forced to do. Sima Saeedi's "The Shelf Life of Revenge" centers on the resentment a woman feels for a man who was a leader of the Mujahidin during the Revolution, but who survived and prospered while his followers -- her friends -- were killed. This powerful story will stay with a reader for a long time. Lily Farhadpour's "A Woman's Geography is Sacred", on the other hand, deals with resentment on an entirely different scale and leaves one smiling.
Some of the stories are brutal, some poignant, and one or two are mystical. But Tehran Noir will prove fascinating reading for anyone with an interest in Iran. It will be equally intriguing for a reader who is simply curious about a theocratic society in the 21st century, or what became of a vibrant, cosmopolitan society after the fall of its dynastic ruler.