A Ravaged World: Travels Across Iran details the adventures of François-Henri Désérable as he journeys from Tehran to the border with Balochistan at the height of Iranian Government repression quashing nationwide protests against the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. At the end of his forty-day journey he was arrested and interrogated by the Revolutionary Guards, who believed his story: instead of being imprisoned he was ordered to immediately leave the country. He returned to Europe with this unique traveller’s tale, recounting his adventures and encounters with a largely pro-Western people brutally subjugated by an anti-Western religious theocracy, in L’usure d’un monde: Une traversée de l’Iran / A Ravaged World: Travels Across Iran.
Désérable’s itinerary starts from a boarding house in Tehran, going on to Qom, Kashan, Ispahan, Shiraz, Persepolis, Yazd, Kerman, Bam, Lut desert, Keshit, Bam, Zahedan, then back to Tehran; and finally Tabriz and Saqqez.
Continue reading 4Translation A Ravaged World: Travels Across Iran, François-Henri Désérable
Stalking the Atomic City by Markiyan Kamysh must be one of the strangest examples of tourist literature ever written. Its focus is about visits to ‘the Zone’: the radioactive Exclusion Zone around the devastated nuclear power plant at Chornobyl (the Ukrainian spelling of the place). Markiyan Kamysh describes his frequent illegal visits to the Zone during the 2010s, before the Russian invasion. At first, these sound unbelievable. Why would anyone want to crawl through barbed-wire fences, run from border guards and — in winter — suffer below freezing temperatures as they spent days and nights sleeping rough in decaying apartments and collapsing industrial machinery?
Continue reading Review Stalking the Atomic City, Markiyan Kamysh
Afghan women have been in the news again since the Taliban have banned Voice of America, the BBC and Deutsche Welle after women students and teachers protested peacefully in response to secondary schools for girls being shut down. Writing in Afghanistan is once again a taboo craft for women.
As a schoolteacher put it: “The Taliban are scared of an educated girl. When a girl is educated, a family will be educated. And when a family is educated, a nation will be educated. Ultimately, an educated nation will never, ever nourish the motives of terrorists.” www.democracynow.org
Continue reading Review My Pen is the Wing of a Bird, New Fiction by Afghan Women
Since the first seven episodes of our weekly series Bridging the Divide: Translation and the Art of Empathy went live in July, there are still eight episodes to look forward to. The hosts, Georgia de Chamberet and Lucy Popescu, interview independent publishers, their authors and highly creative translators filling a unique niche in showcasing myriad inner and outer worlds thereby enriching our literary culture.
When reading, do you “hear” the book as if it is being read to you by the author?
The voice tells us so much about a person. Where they come from, their personality and how they’re feeling. As important as the voices in writers’ heads are those that are heard by readers. Hearing authors and translators talk describe their vision and craft in our Bridging the Divide series will enhance your reading of their books.
Catch up, listen up!
Interview | J.S. Margot, author of the memoir Mazel Tov
What happens when a young Flemish woman at university in Antwerp teaches the four children of an Orthodox Jewish family to earn a bit of extra money? How does her first great love for an Iranian political refugee evolve? Read Henrietta Foster’s review HERE
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Continue reading Podcast Update: Bridging the Divide: Translation and the Art of Empathy, season 1
Michèle Roberts is the author of twelve highly-acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House which won the W.H. Smith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She has also published poetry and short stories, and is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a member of PEN and of The Society of Authors.
I caught up with her by the telephone, on the eve of the Covid 19 lockdown, to talk about Negative Capability: A Diary of Surviving, her latest book out today with Sandstone Press, and much more besides.
Continue reading Podcast Michèle Roberts, Franco-British novelist