Events > York Literature Festival: The Art of Translation & Contemporary Iranian Literature

York Literature Festival: The Art of Translation & Contemporary Iranian Literature

19th March 2019

18:30 - 20:00

Friargate Quaker Meeting House, YO1 9RL

To celebrate the launch of The Book of Tehran published by Comma Press, join us at York Literature Festival for a reading and conversation around translation and exciting new short fiction from Iran! Speakers: Alireza Abiz, Ra Page.

How much do we in Britain actually know about Tehran? As the capital city of a country that much of the West is increasingly turning its back on, it’s easy to forget the richness, creativity and vibrancy of a city that has for decades produced some of the most inventive voices in the Middle East. In a rare commission, a new collection of stories offers a glimpse into the real life of this city. What may surprise you is the similarities with life in the UK. The short story is a popular format in Iran, offering a window to different perspectives and an opportunity to showcase rising writers. Readers will experience Tehran through ten of the best contemporary short stories published after 2000, available for the first time in English, from the country’s most exciting literary voices: Goli Taraghi, Kourosh Asadi, Payam Nasser, Azardokht Bahrami, Fereshteh Ahmadi, Mohammad Hosseini, Amirhossein Khorshidfar, Hamed Habibi, Atoosa Afshin-Navid & Mohammad Tolouei – brilliantly interpreted by leading Persian to English translators. Often reflective, and sometimes humorous, ironic, poetic, romantic or surreal. 

Experience the vibrancy, subtlety and sophistication of Persian writing – the use of imagery and metaphor, the tone and timbre of the writing, the use of satire, comedy, the language registers, rhythms and cadences of the prose. Hear about the process, challenges and art of translation. Get a taste of a fascinating and highly literate country, which commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in 2019.

The Book of Tehran forms part of a wider programme by Visiting Arts promoting contemporary Iranian literature and culture in the UK, encouraging the advancement of Persian to English translation, and facilitating professional development opportunities and exchange between UK and Iran literary networks.

Limited places – book tickets for £8 at


About the speakers:

Alireza Abiz is an Iranian poet, literary critic and translator. He studied English Literature in Mashhad and Tehran universities and received his PhD in Creative Writing – Poetry from Newcastle University in the UK. Abiz has written extensively on Persian contemporary literature and culture. His scholarly book (in English) Censorship of Literature in Post-Revolutionary Iran: Politics and Culture since 1979 is forthcoming by I. B. Tauris. Abiz has so far published six collections of poetry in Persian; ‘Stop! We must get off’, ‘Spaghetti with Mexican sauce’, ‘I can hear a tree from my desk’, ‘ 13 slash 1 Koohsangi Street’, ‘Black Line- London Underground’ and ‘The Pomegranate of Bajestan’. ‘Black Line, London Underground’ was awarded the Shamlou Poetry Award in 2018. Abiz has translated work by leading poets including Rainer Maria Rilke, Basil Bunting, Derek Walcott, Allen Ginsberg and C.K. Williams into Persian. He has also taken posts in the media as a journalist and broadcast journalist and is currently working as an independent researcher in London.

Ra Page is the founder and Editorial Manager of Comma Press. He’s the editor of numerous anthologies, including The City Life Book of Manchester Short Stories (Penguin, 1999), co-editor of The New Uncanny (winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, 2008) and Litmus, voted one of 2011’s books of the year by The Observer. Between 2004 and 2013 he was also the coordinator of Literature Northwest, a support agency for independent publishers in the region (until it formally merged with Comma). He also coordinates Comma Film, an on-going film adaptation project which regularly commissions filmmakers and animators to adapt short literary texts (poems and short stories). He is a former journalist, having been Deputy Editor for City Life magazine, and a former Director of Manchester Poetry Festival. His critical work has been published in The Journal of the Short Story in English, and he’s been a producer, co-writer and co-director on a number of short film projects. He read Physics and Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford and has an MA in English from the University of Manchester.

Claire Chambers is a Senior Lecturer in Global Literature at the University of York. Her research focuses on modern literature from South Asia, the Arab world, and their diasporas. She is the author of four books, including Rivers of Ink: Selected Essays. She is editor (with Rachael Gilmour) of the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, and writes a regular literary column for Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.


About the festival:

Celebrating the written and spoken word in one of the UK’s most beautiful cities. York Literature Festival brings together nationally respected writers, as well as writers with York-connections. The festival offers workshops and open-mics for local people as well as the chance to see famous writers talk about their work, with over 50 events across the city. In 2019 the festival returns for its 12th anniversary and includes author events, storytelling, theatre, cinema and loads more. There is also traditionally a guided tour of York’s sites of literary merit.