ABDVol.31 No4

Active Writers/Authors in the Present-day Iran
Lili Hayeri Yazdi

Iranian Literature

Until this century, literary achievement in Persian prose was distinguished more by the style of writing rather than the content. Sometimes considerable skill was needed to extract the meaning from under a heap of rhetorical phrases and turgid verbosity.
  It was only in recent years that prose gradually acquired a distinct identity rivalling that of poetry. At the turn of the century, journalism became an instrument of social change and political reform, paving the way towards judicious use of simple, unadorned prose. The first dramas, novels, and short stories were full of social criticism and satire and played a considerable role in raising the national consciousness and promoting social reform.
  And by emergence of "The Constitutional Revelation" of 1905-1911, there was a significant turning point in the history of the Iranian people. It was at this time that a new era of modern Persian prose fiction started with the first Iranian novelist Zey-al-Abedin Maraghei and his famous novel "Ibrahim Beik's Traveling Report".
  Then there was Mohammad Ali Jamalzade (1892-1997) who is known as the founder of the European style Persian short story, a prose writer who became one of the most important figures in 20th century Persian literature. One of his works, "Once upon a Time" is a collection of six satirical stories and sketches in charming colloquial language. Jamalzadeh has also translated many literary works.
  His style, a mixture of humour and tragedy was followed by several other well-known authors, such as Sadegh Hedayat, with his masterpiece "The Blind Owl" and Al-e-Ahmad, who wrote five major collections of short stories. Al-e Ahmad's 1962 novel "Gharbzadegi" (Fascinated by West) directly discusses Iran's mounting social problems for the first time in Iranian literature. Al-e-Ahmad has translated a number of notable works from French into Persian.
  In 1948, Simin Daneshvar became the first Iranian woman to publish a collection of short stories called "The Extinguished Fire".
  As an author and a translator, Daneshvar writes sensitively about the Iranian women and their lives. Her most successful work, "Sovashoun", a novel about life in and around her hometown, Shiraz, was published in 1969, and became the best seller of all Persian novels. She has also translated works from some famous English writers.
  In 1970 M. Dowlatabadi appeared as a leading novelist. A writer of considerable verve and imagination, he writes mostly of the harsh life in the deserts of Iran. In his major work "Kelidar" in ten volumes (1979-84), he writes about a large array of characters, mostly poor villagers and semi-nomadic peasants.
  In satirical drama we can name Akbar Radi and Iraj Pezeshzad who began writing by translating the works of Voltaire and Moliere into Farsi. His most famous works are "My Uncle Napoleon" and "Good Manner Is Better than Wealth".
  After World War II a new experience was created by Gholam Hoisain Sa'edi (Gowhare Morad). He is a prolific dramatist, short story writer and novelist of liberal convictions and wrote a number of socio-political and psycological dramas which have exerted a strong literary influence for the past three decades.
  Nasir Taqva'i, a distinguished film director and author, was nominated as the best director in 1973. His stories mostly deal with life in the southern villages of Iran.
  Mohsen Makhmalbaf & Abbas Kiarostami are the two major directors of the post-revolutionary Iranian cinema, and such is the measure of their talents that it is only fair to say that they both stand "at the frontline of today's world cinema". While Kiarostami is known for his lyrical, poetic and humanistic attitude, mixed with a very complex, playful formalism, Makhmalbaf's startling work has often been cited for being much the opposite; caustic, confrontational, hysterical and anti-social. Makhmalbaf has written twenty-eight short stories, three novels, ten plays, two books of essays, and twenty-eight scripts .

Persian Non-Fiction

Karim Keshavarz(1916-1986) has written many books in history and literature such as "A Thousand Years of Persian Prose" and also translated some books such as "The History of the Median Empire" and "Islam in Iran".
  The late scholar Ali Akbar Dehkhoda began compiling "The Dictionary of Dehkhoda" during World War I. By the end of 1980, the last volume of this invaluable work was published. Nearly 70 years of continuous effort to compile the work and nearly 45 years to publish it, show the importance of the work.
  The late Ali Shariaty has a Ph.D in sociology and his revolutionary approach towards religion attracted young generation and many others.
  Reza Davari-Ardakani (b. 1933), President of The Academy of Sciences has his Ph.D. in philosophy and is professor of philosophy at Tehran University. He is author of 15 books, about 100 articles and papers on philosophy. He has been Head of Iranian National Commission for UNESCO (1979-82), also he has served as the Head of Department of Philosophy at Tehran University (1982-88). At present he is the Editor-in-Chief of "Name-ye Farhang Journal" and "Farhang Journal" from 1996.


Nima Yushij (1896-1959) took a revolutionary step to establish a new perspective in Persian poetry. What made Nima Yushij a great and powerful poet was his innovations in form and style rather than the content of his poetry. His ambition gave Persian poetry a completely new identity.
  In 1973 he wrote his first symbolist free verse, "The Phoenix". His other work "Fantasy" is a mixture of Hafez's mystical lyricism and Nezami's dramatic observation of life. Nima Yushij is acclaimed as the founder of modern Persian poetry.
  Ahmad Shamlou is born in 1925. He is editor of some known literary magazines, writer, translator and one of the most famous contemporary poets. He has also written many poems & short stories for children such as "Golden Rooster", "Feather Clad" and "Paria". His most important work is a comprehensive collection of Persian folklore called "The Book of the Street".
  Mahmood Kianush, poet, writer, critic and translator was born in 1934. He published his first poems and short stories at the age of 16, he was editor-in-chief of two leading Persian literary magazines and he also contributed to many magazines as a writer. After Abaas Yamini Sharif (father of children's poetry in Iran), he has become known as the founder of children's poetry.

Children's Literature

Mehdi Azar Yazdi (b. 1921) started writing books for children in 1956. He wrote 7 books, each of which is adapted from a classical book in Persian literature and re-written for children in an easy- to-understand style. His most famous work is "Good Stories for Good Children" which won the UNESCO Prize in 1966 and was regarded as the best book of the year in 1967. Also another of his books "Adam" was chosen as the best book of the year in 1968.
  Seyed Mehdi Shojaei (b. 1960), author, playwright and screen writer was Editor-in-Chief of two well-known magazines for many years. He has written many books mostly for children and young adults. Most of his books are based on religious themes. He received a Golden Medal in 1999, in the"1st National Festival of 20 Years of Story Writing" in Iran. He is Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute of Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (Kanoon).
Mohammad Mirkiani (b. 1958), author and playwright, started to work for radio in 1982 and produced many tales and plays for broadcasting. Mirkiani has written many short stories for young adults describing the hardships and difficulties of working children. Some of them are based on classical Persian literature which has been re-written.
  He has won some prizes at various festivals, and some of his books have been translated into other languages. "My Loneliest Day", "Tin Tin & Sinbad", and "Kamal Stories" are the most famous of his books. At present he is Director of Publication Department of Kanoon.
  Hushang Moradi Kermani, author and script writer (b. 1944) has written many books for children. Among his books the most famous one is "The Stories of Majid". He received The Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1992, The Blue Cobra Award in 1994 and The Jose Marti Award in 1995. His books have been translated into other languages.
  In this field we can also name other outstanding writers who have been awarded at International Book Festivals such as Mostafa Rahmandoost, Mohammad Reza Bayrami, Afsaneh Shaban Nejad, Mohammad Reza Yusefi and many more.

Mirabedini, Hassan; Book of the Month (literature)
Kiyanoosh, Mahmud; Modern Persian Poetry
Hoghoughi, Mohammad; Biography of Persian Writers, Translators & Artists, Persian Contemporary Literature
Maakhouzi, Mehdi; Selection of Persian Poetry & Prose (Vol. 1-2)

Lili Hayeri Yazdi, Research Associate and Cultural Consultant, Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults
She is responsible for the Cultural/Artistic Projects at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. She is closely associated with the activities of UNESCO, ACCU, and other international cultural and educational centres.