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Black Parrot, Green Crow: A Collection of Short Fiction [Paperback]

Hushang Gulshiri , Houshang Golshiri , Moayyad Heshmat

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Book Description

4 July 2003
UNTIL NOW, only a sparse selection of Golshiri's fiction has been available in English translation--three short stories, a novella written under a pseudonym, and his novel Prince Ehtejab, which was made into a film. Now, Black Parrot, Green Crow brings together the largest collection of Golshiri's writings in any language--eighteen short stories and three poems. They span the arc of Golshiri's career as a writer, from his days as a young student in Isfahan under the Pahlavi regime, to the 1980s and 1990s, and the disappointment of the Iranian people with the Islamic Republic. Golshiri's stories, crafted with a withering irony, expose the fanatical and draconian political apparatus of tyrannical regimes, while his wry humor and delicate sensitivity to the human condition tempers the blistering satire, making the narratives short but nonetheless harrowing and touching tragedies. The tales are filled with the uncertainty of life in a culture undergoing drastic change, and hauntingly etch the plight of the individual in a climate of political oppression. Fiction writer, critic, and editor, HOUSHANG GOLSHIRI was born in Isfahan in 1937. He was one of the first Iranian writers to use modern literary techniques, and is recognized as one of the most influential writers of Persian prose of the twentieth century. In 1965 Golshiri helped to found Iran's chief literary journal, and in 1968 he established, along with other writers protesting government censorship, the Iranian Writers Association. Golshiri's stories and efforts to establish basic rights for writers landed him in trouble--including imprisonment and a ban on his books--with both the Pahlavi regime and the Islamic Republic. In 1999 he was awarded the Erich-Maria Remarque Peace Prize for his struggle to promote democracy and human rights in Iran. Golshiri died, allegedly of meningitis, on June 5, 2000, in Tehran. HESHMAT MOAYYAD has been Professor of Persian Literature at the University of Chicago since 1966.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stream of consciousness Iranian style 1 Jan 2011
By Brian H. Appleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Houshang Golshiri is another amazing Iranian contemporary writer...one can sense the influence of Sadegh Hedayat in that the subjects of many of these short stories are dark and mysterious in this collection with the ironic title Black Parrot, Green Crow which some say symbolizes the clerics and the greens. There is in Houshang's writing that same kind of interrupted flow of consciousness where repeated sentences reappear again and again without objects, leading to great suspence and wonder...disturbed thought,like synapses not being made...the reader senses the dread and the fatal ending on its way sometimes predictable often not. "The Wolf" is such a story. We know that it will end badly with the beautiful wife of the professor and her obsession with the wolf or the "The Portrait of the Innocent I" in which a scare crow named Hassani in a field has strange effects on the minds of the villagers and people keep meeting calamitous and mysterious ends next to it or with articles of their clothing found on the scare crow.

There is also a subtle criticism of some of the negative aspects of Persian culture. The first story "Behind the Thin Stalks of the Bamboo Screen" reveal the worthlessness and abuse assigned to a poor disfigured prostitute while the antagonist fantasizes over a photo of a Western blonde cut out of a magazine. "The Man with the Red Tie" shows the colossal stupidity of the secret police under the IRI and yet it is also quite a humorous story. "My China Doll" is a shocking psychological landscape of a little girl whose father has been jailed and disappeared by the IRI we presume. The story lines are intentionally burried and hard to follow and the style is like the racing mind of the average person which privately chases about in many directions rather than sticking to one path...like herding cats or blowing on water.

"The Portrait of the Innocent II" is also a very revealing social critique. It is told by a man and his family being excommunicated and ostracised by village after village without the reader really understanding why until the very end.The criticism is not done in a pedantic way but rather we feel the suffering of this pariah as he recounts his experiences in his own simple words.

"Both Sides of the Coin" is a truely amazing story and with another unexpected ending, as a prisoner recounts to the visiting son of a late inmate, how he was responsible for driving him to take his own life, an event which is not revealed until the very end.

Golshiri was a great story teller and I am greatful that my friend Professor Franklin Lewis is responsible for the translation of several of them in this collection. I am more convinced than ever having now read Golshiri of what a great constellation of contemporary Iranian writers exists, which the world needs to know and read and I am therefore very appreciative of the Houshang Golshiri Foundation in Tehran which is preoccupied with the translation into English and other languages of the many great Iranian modern authors.See link: [...]

On my website [...] I have collected an album with their photos which numbers over 356 writers so far, a mere handful of whom have been translated.

This collection is well worth reading for both its educational and entertainment value and for anyone who is not familiar with Golshiri, it is enlightening.
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