Iranian Writers Must Be Able to Write in Such a Way that the Idea Is Missed by the Censor, but Understood by the Readers


"Writing books in Iran is an art in itself. A writer faces many obstacles and has to avoid many forbidden topics," said Iranian writer AMIR CHEHELTAN opening the discussion. During the last hundred years of censorship in Iran, Iranian writers had to learn to write in such a way that the censor does not understand what is being said, but the reader does.

Cheheltan currently publishes his books in exile. When censorship became even more intense, he realized that he could not betray himself anymore and that he did not want to lose his freedom. Censorship forbids, for example, the topics of politics and erotica. And it is these two motifs that he explores in his new book Revolution Street.

Right at the beginning of the book, Amir Cheheltan describes an unpleasant situation in which a doctor reconstructs the hymen of a patient suffering from pain. "Violence and harshness have a long history in Iran. People are used to it and it is nothing unusual. And as for the described situation – it is also typical for Iranian society. We want to be modern, but we still get influenced by old superstitions. Which is why for many people it is still important that a girl entering marriage is a virgin. Hence the reason for these procedures. Fortunately, recent years have brought a sexual revolution and the situation has been slowly changing," said Amir Cheheltan.

In the next excerpt, the author presented another phenomenon of Iranian history. He described how the regime removed inconvenient people. "Twenty-five years ago, a number of poets and cultural figures died under suspicious circumstances. Newspapers reported on it and for the first time the government stopped denying that these murders were happening. People started talking about it. Thanks to that the public learned that the secret services met in a sauna in the north of Tehran and planned these attacks," the writer added to the scenes he describes in his book.

Amir Cheheltan believes that it is necessary to talk about difficult topics. "Difficult topics are our everyday life. I try to document them. What is happening in Iran also has its roots in colonialism and imperialism," the writer said. He concluded the discussion with a reminder of the great history of Persian poetry. "Its history dates back a thousand years and that is really very unique. It is a legacy for us and for the whole world. I hope that contemporary Iranian prose will also find its place in the world."