Book of Jinn

Translated from the Persian by M. R. Ghanoonparvar

Series: Bibliotheca Iranica: Persian Fiction in Translation 15
Availability: In stock
Published: 2019
Page #: xii + 640
Size: 5.5 x 8.5
ISBN: 978-1-56859-324-1
appendix, glossary


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Quick Overview

Considered Hushang Golshiri’s magnum opus and the culmination of all his work in terms of his worldview and more importantly his vision of art and creativity, Book of Jinn is a masterpiece of Persian fiction that has been compares with James Joyce's Ulysses in terms of its sophisticated use of language, colorful characters, a work in which even a city and its culture as a whole are presented as a character; Golshiri's Isfahan of Book of Jinn emulates Joyce's Dublin in his novel. The dominance of tradition, especially religious beliefs mingled with folkloric superstition, is evident in both novels, in which in the Irish writer's work Catholicism permeates and in the Persian writer's work, Shi'ism casts a strong shadow on all aspects of life
Book of Jinn is a magical novel. It begins with the narrative of the childhood of its protagonist, Hoseyn, in the relatively newly-established city of Abadan, in a working-class neighborhood made of small ramshackle concrete houses, a small modern jungle created in the shadows of oil refinery smokestacks, a workers' ghetto reminiscent of many such neighborhoods in various parts of the world with hurriedly-constructed dwellings, common especially in the first part of the 20th century. However, after fewer than 80 pages, the locale of the story moves to the city of Isfahan, with its old clay and mud brick houses, narrow twisting alleys covered with arched roofs, old fashioned and traditional people, and the magical heavy presence of thousands of years of history and superstitious beliefs weighing on the shoulders of its inhabitants. This is a city that entices and finally possesses the teenager who has returned to his ancestral home. Book of Jinn, although a magical novel, is written in an incredibly realistic style. And even though it is magical, it is not magical realism in the conventional sense of the term. Its characters are tangible and familiar to the reader, as close as the members of his or her own family; but they are at the same time distant and inscrutable. It is the story of a city, a culture, and a people undergoing transition and change because of all that modern life has imposed on them: political upheavals, revolutions, and social and cultural instability. The narrator, in fact, is awed and even alarmed by this change and makes every effort to the best of his ability to keep the ground stable under his own feet. In contrast to his brother, Hasan, a teacher and political activist who wants to change the world, and who constantly moves from village to village and town to town, first as a teacher and then as a political prisoner, Hoseyn wants to keep the world as it is, or rather as it was, by searching for and securing a small corner in it and stopping the world, his world, from revolving and changing. When Hasan criticizes him for living in the past and declares that one should set the foundations for the future, Hoseyn responds: “I am afraid of your future. In that past, at least everything had its own place, and one also would know human worth.”


Hushang Golshiri

Hushang Golshiri (1938-2000) was perhaps the most prominent Persian writer of fiction and an important literary critic in the second half of the 20th century. Although from a working class background in Isfahan, his family lived in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company town of Abadan for several years, when his father worked in construction for that company. While working as a teacher in the villages near Isfahan and also later in the Isfahan schools, Golshiri began writing poetry but soon switched to writing fiction, beginning with a number of short stories. In his earlier years, his association with leftist groups resulted in his being jailed by the Shah’s regime in the early 1960s. Soon, however, he became disenchanted with political activities and devoted his life to writing novels and short stories as well as literary criticism. Golshiri’s national and international fame came with Prince Ehtejab (1968), a short narratively-complex novel about a 19th-century aristocratic family on the decline with contemporary political overtones, in which he experiments with points of view and other literary techniques. His fame was soon enhanced when the novel was adapted for an internationally acclaimed film by Bahman Farmanara. With many short story collections and later novels, including Ra’i’s Lost Lamb, Christine and Kid, Mirrors with Doors, and Book of Jinn as well as books on literary theory and criticism, Golshiri devoted the latter decades of his life to organizing what he called the “writer’s workshop,” in which he trained a new generation of such renowned fiction writers as Moniru Ravanipur, the author of Satan’s Stones and Kanizu, and Shahriar Mandanipour, the author of Censoring an Iranian Love Story.

Translator’s Preface and Acknowledgments
Book of Jinn
Episode One
Episode Two
Episode Three
Episode Four
Episode Five
Epilogue One
Epilogue Two
List of Characters
Explanatory Notes

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