Programmes > Exchange > UK-Iran Short Story Translation & Residency

UK-Iran Short Story Translation & Residency

In the UK, Iranian contemporary writing and culture has a quiet presence with few published works and events to engage with, yet there is great appetite to learn and exchange more and Persian (Farsi) is known to be the 7th most widely spoken language in London.

The population of Iran is over 80 million. It is a highly literate country and home to one of the largest international book fairs in the world. Iranian women novelists published a wave of bestsellers around the turn of the millennium. Now we are seeing a movement of civil society in Persian literature. How will this be brought to the attention of the world?

Short stories are a popular form in Iran, offering a window to different perspectives and an opportunity to showcase leading contemporary voices. Literature in translation is also becoming more popular with the Man Booker International Prize and collections of international short fiction from publishers such as Comma Press gaining traction.

Visiting Arts has, for over 10 years, engaged with theatre directors and film makers, visual artists, gallerists, designers and architects from Iran. We feel that the time is right to explore the writing and contemporary storytelling of young modern Iranian writers and believe that these writers should be able to reach a greater contemporary audience and readership. We are also aware that the most satisfactory relationships are reciprocal and we would like to open up the contemporary Iranian readership to UK writers and publishers.

The programme aims to:

  •  develop interest in and knowledge of contemporary writing from Iran - placing it in the context of a long line of classical literature
  •  promote greater awareness within the UK of the inspiring contemporary arts and culture of Iran
  •  create new, high quality translations from Persian to English
  •  create a network of interest from writers, critics, artists, publishers and other creative professionals in the UK and beyond
  •  engage local audiences through interventions such as readings and discussions
  •  develop artistic and professional practice for Iranian writers and translators

Twenty of the best plot centred short stories published after 2000 have been selected by notable literary voices from the country to illustrate the excitement, flavour and skills of current contemporary writing from Iran. The jury panel included award-wining writers, editors and critics such as Fereshteh Ahmadi, Mohammad Hosseini and Keyhan Bahmani. We are delighted to announce that ten of these works have been chosen for inclusion in a new English translation anthology to launch in 2019. We are honoured to have the participation of ten exceptional translators to interpret these stories.

Translation workshops
We are delighted to be involved in the British Centre for Literary Translation’s International Literary Translation & Creative Writing Summer School 2018 with the inclusion of Persian to English workshops supported by the British Institute for Persian Studies.
Find out more about the week here.

Additionally, in partnership with the National Centre for Writing, writer and performer Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh will be invited for a residency in Norwich this October during a week of activities supporting and celebrating young people (Engage! & Great Yarmouth's first Youth Arts Festival) with reading and workshop events with the local communities and literary network, alongside time to develop her practice. Find out more about the week here.

A resource page has also been initiated with related networks, contacts and study centres, which we hope will help will help contribute to bringing about an increase in publications, translations and literary exchange to positively impact on Iranian literature, as well as on literary exchange with the UK and elsewhere. If you have any suggestions for the lists please contact and we welcome you to sign up to the Visiting Arts website for updates on the project.

We are grateful to our partners and supporters including: