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BOOKS

Strange Times, My Dear: The Pen Anthology Of Contemporary Iranian Literature

By Tom Pryor

Edited by Nahid Mozaffari

Arcade Publishing

It’s not often that simply publishing a book can get you threatened with jail in the U.S. (Ulysses, anyone?), but that’s exactly what Arcade Publishing faced when bringing out this valuable collection of new Iranian writing. Iran, like Cuba, is subject to a U.S. trade embargo, and according to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, violating the embargo can cost one up to 10 years in prison, and $1,000,000 in fines per violation—kind of ironic, considering American notions of state censorship in Iran. Nevertheless, this collection beat the embargo, making the writing of dozens of previously unknown voices heard in the West for the first time. Edited by Nahid Mozaffari, this rich volume offers a mixed bag of poetry, short stories and extracts from novels. It covers a wide range of topics, from the geopolitical concerns of the Iran-Iraq war and the Islamic revolution to complex personal dramas of everyday life, while lifting the proverbial chador on the latest trends in Iranian letters.