TEHRAN.(Iranart) – T he highly acclaimed novel ‘Savushun’ by Persian academic, novelist, fiction writer and translator Simin Daneshvar (1921-2012) will be published in Italian by Francesco Brioschi Editore (publication) based in Milan.
Savushun is the story of a family in Shiraz during the occupation of Iran in World War II. It is being translated by Italian expert in Near Eastern Studies Anna Vanzan, specializing in history and literature of the Qajar era (1785-1925) and relations between Iran and the West, Mehr News Agency reported.
Vanzan teaches Islamic culture at IULM University of Milan, which focuses on learning of modern languages. She is highly experienced in translation of Persian texts. Her previous translations from Persian sources include Humayun-Nama (History of Humayun) written by Mogul princess Gul-Badan Begam (1523-1603), the youngest daughter of Timurid prince Babur (1483-1530), the first emperor of the Mogul dynasty in the Indian subcontinent.
From contemporary Persian literature, Vanzan has translated Fattaneh Haj-Seyyed-Javadi’s 1995 bestselling novel ‘Drunkard Morning’ (in Persian: Bamdad-e Khomar). Vanzan is currently writing articles on Qajar rule for Encyclopedia Iranica.
Savushun is set during the British and Soviet occupation of Iran during the Second World War. It combines history, memoirs, folklore, myth and personal feelings from a woman’s perspective.
Vanzan says the story of Daneshvar is similar to the great works of world literature and therefore is a must for Italian readers.
Savushun has sold over 500,000 copies in Iran. Translated into English and 16 other languages, the novel has received positive reviews in journals such as USA Today, The Washington Post and Kirkus Reviews, an American book review magazine.
For western readers, the novel not only offers an example of contemporary Iranian fiction, it also provides a rare glimpse into the inner workings of an Iranian family. Such a prospect is even more intriguing because the novel is written from a woman’s point of view, by an Iranian woman writer whose life covers one of the most turbulent periods in Iranian history, according to a review on the book published in The Washington Post in 1990.
Daneshvar wrote fiction as well as essays on aesthetics and on classical Persian literature since the early 1950s. It was Savushun, however, that introduced her as a distinct literary voice to reckon with. The novel is dedicated to her late husband, Jalal Al-Ahmad, also a renowned fiction writer. Al-Ahmad passionately attacked the corrupting influence of western culture on Iranian society. It is not surprising, therefore, that Daneshvar also addresses this issue in her novel albeit from a completely different perspective.
Foreign interference is only one of the problems the main character, Zari, suffers from, in the book. In fact at times more oppression comes from Zari’s own family, although she does not complain about or even appear to notice them. She loves her family and her culture so deeply that she is drawn to the radical ideas of her husband, a landowner, who detests the foreign interference in statecraft and exploitation of poor peasants.
Human suffering has a special appeal for Zari. It helps her feel a tangible link with the fate of a fictional character of the past, the murder of the ancient Persian hero Siavash - also Siavosh - (from whom the novel takes its title).
Siavash is the symbol of innocence in Iranian literature. His defense of his own chastity, self-imposed exile, unending love for his wife and ultimate execution at the hands of his adopted host is intertwined with Iranian mythology and literature over millennia.