on “The Colonel” by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi

ColonelRaha Namy at The Quarterly Conversation:

Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (born 1940) is considered by many the living Iranian novelist, a perennial Nobel Prize candidate. Dowlatabadi wrote The Colonel some thirty years ago, because in his own words he had been “afflicted.” The subject forced him to sit at the desk and write nonstop for two years. “Writing The Colonel I felt a strong sense of indignation and pain. As I mentioned before somewhere, I felt that if I did not write The Colonel, I would probably end up in a mad house,” he noted in email correspondence last spring.

At the time Dowlatabadi put the manuscript away and returned to it periodically to revise and edit. The revisions did not lead to any change in the contextual elements, he explains, but helped him save what he had written “with strong emotions and under the influence of its own era” from sentimentalism and polish it with the help of creative decisions that are not “intentional” but “unavoidable,” what could be called “birth born out of birth.”

He finally handed the work to his publisher a few years ago. It was then submitted to the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance (the censorship apparatus that needs to preapprove all books before publication) but has so far been denied a permit, its destiny still under debate.

more here.