What do we in the West really know of urban life, cultural traditions and contemporary writing in Iran today versus its profile in the media? What may surprise you are the similarities with life in the UK. In Liverpool in the past few years the local Iranian community has seen a dramatic rise and Persian (Farsi) is the 7th most widely spoken language in London. The population of Iran is over 80 million with 60% aged under 30. It’s capital city Tehran is highly literate and home to one of the largest international book fairs in the world staged every year in early May. Iranian women novelists published a wave of bestsellers around the turn of the millennium that reached an international readership. Where is Iranian literature now?
In a rare commission by Comma Press and Visiting Arts, The Book of Tehran allows English readers to experience the real life of this city through ten of the best contemporary short stories published after 2000 by Iran’s most exciting literary voices. Tehran appears in these stories as both a physical entity (with all its iconographic features), and a cultural reality with contrasting and evolving rituals, norms, and anomalies. As a result of this latter, perhaps, Tehran also appears as a point of arrival and departure for the émigré. Tehran’s story is inevitably a story of migration, of getting lost and found, sometimes in the same breath.
To celebrate the launch of The Book of Tehran we bring together contributor Orkideh Behrouzan with Liverpool based Vahid Davar and Niloo Sharifi for a reading and chat about Iran’s literature, culture, and impression in the media at Writing on the Wall Festival in Liverpool.
This event is organised by Visiting Arts as part of WoWFest 2019 in partnership with Comma Press, the Iranian Cultural Society of Liverpool and supported by the Awesome Foundation: Liverpool.
The Book of Tehran has been developed as part of Visiting Arts’ programme promoting greater awareness of contemporary Iranian literature and culture in the UK and encouraging high quality Persian to English translation.
Writing on the Wall (WoW) is a dynamic, Liverpool-based organisation which celebrates writing in all its forms through year-round writing development projects and an annual month-long literature festival. WoW are part of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio for Literature and have become a unique part of the cultural land scape of the Northwest. Throughout the entire month of May, the annual WoWFest presents an eclectic mix of local, national and international writers, spoken word performers, commentators and artists. The festival embraces a broad range of writing including journalism fiction and non-fiction, poetry, song-writing, and storytelling. WoWFest invites audiences to engage with crucial questions, diverse cultures, new ideas and artistic excellence in the beautiful venues and spaces that Liverpool has to offer.
The Iranian Cultural Society of Liverpool (ICSL) is a charity responding to the needs of the Iranian community of Liverpool and its surrounding area – promoting the rich Iranian culture, safeguarding the Farsi language through educational and community engagement/ social programmes.
The Awesome Foundation is a global community providing grants to support awesome projects include initiatives in a wide range of areas including arts, technology, community development, and more. Many awesome projects are novel or experimental, and evoke surprise and delight. Awesome sometimes challenges and often inspires. Read more about the Awesome Foundation Liverpool Chapter.