Art of Translation Series: Sara KhaliliMonday, January 20, 2020 @ 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
A celebration of acclaimed Persian translator Sara Khalili kicks off the new season of our Art of Translation Series. Sara will read from her acclaimed translations of Shahriar Mandanipour’s novels MoonBrow and Censoring an Iranian love story, and discuss the diversity and complexity of Shahriar’s prose styles, which makes him one of the most difficult contemporary writers to translate.
Sara Khalili is an editor and translator of contemporary Iranian literature. Her translations include Moon Brow and Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour, The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons by Goli Taraghi, The Book of Fate by Parinoush Saniee, Kissing the Sword by Shahrnush Parsipur, and Rituals of Restlessness by Yaghoub Yadali.
She has also translated several volumes of poetry by Forough Farrokhzad, Simin Behbahani, Siavash Kasraii, and Fereydoon Moshiri. Her short story translations have appeared in AGNI, The Kenyon Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, EPOCH, GRANTA, Words Without Borders, The Literary Review, and PEN America, among others. Sara is a recipient of the PEN Translation Grant Award for her translation of a collection of short stories by Shahriar Mandanipour.
Moon Brow is both an Iranian novel and an example of the present global context that enables and, in Mandanipour’s case, forces literature to cross boundaries in language, theme, form, and style and offer a message beyond a singular national context or moment. Mandanipour, living in literary exile in the United States since 2006, seems to thrive on the idea of doubleness. Perhaps it is fueled by the predicament of a writer who has lived through one set of national contexts and stories and finds his oxygen for writing about those events outside his country in the strangeness of exile.
In a country where mere proximity between a man and a woman may be the prologue to deadly sin, where illicit passion is punished by imprisonment, or even death, telling that most redemptive of human narratives becomes the greatest literary challenge. If conducting a love affair in modern Iran is not a simple undertaking, then telling the story of that love may be even more difficult. This, however, is exactly what Shahriar does in Censoring an Iranian Love Story. Shahriar evokes a pair of young lovers who find each other—despite surreal persecution and repressive parents—through coded messages and internet chat rooms; and triumphantly their story entwines with an account of their creator’s struggle. Inventive, darkly comic and profoundly touching, Censoring an Iranian Love Story celebrates both the unquenchable power of the written word and a love that is doomed, glorious, and utterly real.