Ten years in the writing, this fearless novel—so powerful it’s banned in Iran—tells the stirring story of a tortured people forced to live under successive oppressive regimes.
It begins on a pitch black, rainy night, when there’s a knock on the Colonel’s door. Two policemen have come to summon him to collect the tortured body of his youngest daughter. The Islamic Revolution is devouring its own children. Set over the course of a single night, the novel follows the Colonel as he pays a bribe to recover his daughter’s body and then races to bury her before sunrise.
As we watch him struggle with the death of his innocent child, we find him wracked with guilt and anger over the condition of his country, particularly as represented by his own children: a son who fell during the 1979 revolution; another driven to madness after being tortured during the Shah’s regime; a third who went off to martyr himself fighting for the ayatollahs in their war against Iraq; one murdered daughter, and another who survives by being married to a cruel opportunist.
An incredibly powerful novel about nation, history and family, The Colonel is a startling illumination of the consequences of years of oppression and political upheaval in Iran.
About Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
MAHMOUD DOWLATABADI is one of the Middle East’s most important writers of the last century. The author of numerous novels, plays and screenplays, he is a leading proponent of social and artistic freedom in contemporary Iran.
Born in 1940 in a remote farming region of Iran, the son of a shoemaker, his early life and teens were spent as an agricultural day laborer until he made his way to Tehran, where he started working in the theater and began writing plays, stories and novels. He is the author Missing Soluch, published by Melville House and his first work to be translated into English, and a five-volume portrait of Iranian village life, Kelidar. The Colonel has been shortlisted for the Haus der Kulturen Berlin International Literary Award, and longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize.
We see the revolution through the eyes of the Colonel, an officer in the Shah’s army, a figure largely based on Mohammad Taqi Khan Pesyan, who led a partially successful Persian revolution in 1921 and was lionized after his assassination. As the novel opens, the Colonel is taken in the dead of night to collect his daughter’s body from the prosecutor’s office. From there, the book jumps back and forth to show the Colonel at his height and the struggles of the officer and his son Amir as the Ayatollah returns and the Shah is forced into exile. The military man’s five children represent different factions within Iranian society, and nearly all come to tortuous or violent ends. Patterdale offers up a fine translation of Dowlatabadi’s book, gently guiding Western readers through its complex maze of political intrigue and moral failings with restrained footnotes, a rich glossary and a thoughtful afterword. At its core, the book is about the inherent corruption that power inspires and the toll it takes on the people under its long shadow. – Kirkus Reviews
An Iranian Storyteller’s Personal Revolution
The New York Times Book Review – July 1, 2012 (Excerpt)
After being arrested in 1974 by the Savak, the shah’s secret police, the Iranian writer Mahmoud Dowlatabadi asked his interrogators just what crime he had committed. “None,” he recalled them responding, “but everyone we arrest seems to have copies of your novels, so that makes you provocative to revolutionaries.”
Since then Iran has, of course, experienced an Islamic revolution and three decades of theocratic rule, and Mr. Dowlatabadi, now 71, has gone on to write numerous other books, including “The Colonel,” which has just been published in the United States. But one thing remains unchanged: Those in power in Iran continue to regard him and his work as subversive.
“As a writer I embarked on a path of creating epic narratives of my country, which necessarily contain a lot of history which has not been written,” Mr. Dowlatabadi said, weighing his words carefully in an interview during a visit to New York this spring for the PEN World Voices Festival of international literature. “But in doing that I have been required to have lots of patience, perseverance and very few expectations from life.”
“The Colonel,” a novel about the 1979 revolution and its violent aftermath, is a case in point. The five children of the title character, an officer in the shah’s army, have all taken different political paths and paid a heavy price. The story unfolds on one rainy night as the colonel is trying to retrieve and bury the body of his youngest daughter, who has been tortured to death for handing out leaflets criticizing the new regime. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS
A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
- 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
The Bleeding Hills is available at Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, and any other good bookstore.