Marie Ostby at Public Books:
Two recent stylistically unconventional novels by Iranian authors in diaspora explore the particular cultural loss of the exile, as distinct from that of the migrant or the refugee. Both Shahriar Mandanipour’s Moon Brow and Négar Djavadi’s Disoriental craft puzzling, labyrinthine reading experiences guided by young, impressionable narrators who are physically and psychologically scarred. At issue are two distinct modes of exile—the post-traumatic alienation of the returned soldier and the anxious flight of the political dissident, respectively—yet the books dwell in a similar mood of perpetual dislocation.
Moon Brow is Mandanipour’s second novel to be written in Persian but explicitly intended for English translation, the author working closely with his gifted and meticulous translator, Sara Khalili, from very early on in the composition process.1 His highly acclaimed 2009 work of autofiction, Censoring an Iranian Love Story, was the first novel he produced in this way.