Censorship and love in Iran

Very nice, long, mixed review from James Woods at the New Yorker of a new novel by Shahriar Mandanipour entitled "Censoring an Iranian Love Story." The author makes the censorship process part of the book's subject, including a censored version of the love story (with words crossed out but legible) and an uncensored commentary by the author. As Woods writes: 
“Censoring an Iranian Love Story” is not simply prohibited by censorship but made by it. For Mandanipour, the censor is a kind of co-writer of the book, and he appears often in this novel, under the alias of Porfiry Petrovich (the detective who chases Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov). We see him squabbling with Mandanipour, chatting to another Iranian writer, plotting alternative stories for Dara and Sara, striking out offensive phrases, and finally falling in love with Sara. He is a heavy presence in the novel, and is both creator and critic; the writer is always anticipating the imagination of prohibition even as he tries to outwit it. Even more interesting, the writer, in this situation, becomes his characters; he wants what they want. Their freedom is bound up with his.

But ultimately, the post-modernism and politics of the book seem to devolve into heavy-handedness.

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.