I asked: “What do you know about Iran’s contemporary literature?” Those around the table were once the members of the Soviet Union’s center of writers, mostly tall, old men with pale faces and eyes that have not much brightness. It was our first journey to the mysterious country of the unions. After its destruction, we were some rather young Iranian writers that with an indescribable enthusiasm came to the country of Tolstoy, Gorki and Dastayovski, to vast steppes and Dona River, land of Gerigori Pek and Sholokhov that now has been rested in peace in Dona’ banks.
We had the best knowledge about the Russian literature since not long ago due to good Russian translators and institutes like Progress publication and today we are familiar to the world contemporary literature due to good Iranian translators. Visiting members of the Russia’s center of writers was attractive for us but hearing the answer of our question was not good at all. We asked what they knew about Iran’s contemporary literature. It means how many Iranian writers they knew and how many important novels of this country they read. They simply said: “We know nothing of your contemporary literature and did not read even a book.” They made us disappointed. How was it possible that our big, northern friend and country disregarded us and did not get in touch with our literature which is our spirits while we knew all their authors? Later, I heard similar answers in Frankfurt book fair, Bologna, Paris, London and even eastern Asian countries like Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Unfortunately, no one knew Iran’s contemporary literature as Iran’s novels had not been translated to their languages. But they knew our classic literature very well. When we were talking about Iran’s literature they named Hafez, Rumi (Molavi), Sadi and Ferdowsi. They were familiar with our classic writers and poets. Even in the county of unions, Khayam’s Robaiyat has been translated by 9 translators. So we are not that much stranger to you.
You knew our classic literature well because of your translators. You knew that Iran is a country with a great culture. In your history books you have studied that Iran, Rome and Greece were three superpowers in a time of 2000 years ago. You knew Iranian poets and scholars or even Iranian kings like Cyrus and Darius. However, you heard of contemporary Iran and its literature rarely. Why? Is this our fault or yours? Do we not have worth-payingatention literature and art any more or has the way of your familiarity and recognition been blocked? How and why this gap and separation has been happened? Why do you not translate and read our contemporary literature when we translate the literature of the whole world? It is not difficult for us to answer that question. We think that 2 factors or such unfamiliarity should be named. First, you that have no inclination for translating our works and becoming our friends and second, we, ourselves that did not make any attempt for introducing and even translating our works to your languages. We know that you are among the sophisticated, developed and civilized people of the world. You have great thinkers and scholars. Many of you have thirst for learning and are interested in art and literature. Thus, you still translate our classic literature. The translation of our Rumi’s (Molavi) Masnavi became the bestseller in U.S. Your Paulo Coelho inspired honorably by East spirituality and writes lasting works. Goethe knows himself as the student and follower of Iranian Hafez’s school and is proud of that. So, Iranian art and literature is not unfamiliar for you. You are familiar with us due to WHY?