My Uncle Napoleon: A Novel
by Iraj Pezeshkzad [Īraj Pizishkzād]. Translated by Dick Davis.
Publisher: Mage Publishers (2014; 1st Edition 1996; 1st Persian-language edition: 1973); Random House/Modern Library: Introduced by Azar Nafisi with an Afterword by the author (2006)
ISBN-10: 0-934211-48-5 (Hardcover), 0-8129-7443-3 (Pbk.)
Set during the Allied occupation of Iran during World War II and narrated by a lovelorn young man living among a vast cast of eccentric relations under the roof of the family’s tyrannical and increasingly unmoored patriarch, who also happens to be the father of the narrator’s beloved, My Uncle Napoleon is considered one of the most popular and influential pieces of 20th -century Persian literature. In 1976, a multi-episode series based on the novel became a runaway hit on Iranian television. Banned after the Revolution, both the novel and its adaptation remain underground favorites.
“Let us imagine we are in the process of creating a much-needed reading list for experts and analysts on Iran. I would put My Uncle Napoleon in a cherished place very near the top. One reason for this choice is that it is a great read. More pragmatically, I believe this novel provides its readers - in a delightful and deliciously politically incorrect manner - with many important insights into Iran, its culture and traditions, its present conflicts and past history, as well as its paradoxical relation to the west.” (Azar Nafisi, The Guardian)
“A masterpiece of contemporary world fiction” (Baltimore Sun)
“a love story enfolded in a bildungsroman and wrapped in a conspiracy theory” (Christopher Hitchens, quoted in the AP’s obituary of Pezeshkzad, January 14, 2022)
“... one of Iran’s great literary figures – Iraj Pezeshkzad – whose subtle yet powerful satire is an enduring window onto Iranian culture,” (Simon Shercliff, UK Ambassador to Iran, Tribute on Twitter, January 2022)
Iran: A Modern History
by Abbas Amanat
Genre: Nonfiction; history
Publisher: Yale University Press (2017)
ISBN-10: 0300231466, 0300112548
ISBN-13: 978-300231465, 978-0300112542
This richly documented history of Iran from the 16th-century Safavid Empire to today’s Islamic Republic looks at the country both chronologically and thematically, paying special attention to the 20th century, political history, and to developments that contribute to our understanding of today’s Iran and its place in the world.
“A meticulously researched account of the past 500 years of Iranian history, beginning with the rise of the Safavid dynasty and the entrenchment of Shia Islam and its clerical establishment into the Persian ruling classes. Amanat spent two decades writing his book, not only tracing historical tales of political intrigue but also delving into Iran’s shifting position in imperial geopolitics. In so doing, he attempts to draw meaning from this history by looking for parallels between Persia’s unstable Safavid past and Iran’s current theocratic regime.” (Nazanine Hozar, “Top 10 Books about Iran” The Guardian, May 13, 2020)
"The defiant spirit of [Iran] is brought to life in this monumental history of the past 500 years." (Richard Spencer, The Times [London])
"A majestic work that goes a long way in unraveling . . . the country's enigmas and apparent contradictions." (Ervand Abrahamian, New York Review of Books)