Reading Kazuo Ishiguro in Tehran

Arash Azizi in Iran Wire:

ScreenHunter_2854 Oct. 11 17.04The annual announcement of the recipient of the Nobel prize for literature is always big news. Last year, many were shocked (some even offended) when the award went to the songwriter Bob Dylan. Why celebrate a big celebrity when the award could shed light on lesser known talents? In previous years, of course, some grumbled precisely because the award went to what the New York Times recently called “obscure European writers whose work was not widely read in English.” The article listed a few laureates who supposedly fit this description, including the French novelist Patrick Modiano, who won in 2014.

But what if we look at the award given by the Swedish Academy more globally? The Iranian literary community, for instance, would not have considered Modiano “obscure,” as his work was widely translated into Persian and the subject of numerous studies and book events in the country, some in small provincial towns.

This year’s winner, the Japanese-born British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, is well known around the world, a fact partly explained by the fact that he writes in English. But he is also very well known in Iran, where he can perhaps be counted as one of the most-read novelists in the country.

Every single novel by Ishiguro has been translated into Persian, often more than once, and not just by anybody, but by the giants of Persian literature and translation. Ishiguro’s Persian life began when Najaf Daryabandari, arguably the greatest living literary translator working in the Persian language, translated Remains of the Day.

More here. [Thanks to Asad Raza.]