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Iran’s 2015 Book of the Year Awards

Winners of Iran’s 2015 Book of the Year Awards Honored.

Danish scholar Dr. Hemming Jorgensen’s book, Ice Houses of Iran, published in 2012 by Mazda Publishers, was among the winners of the 32nd Iran’s prestigious Book of the Year Awards. The winners were announced during a ceremony attended by President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran’s Summit Conference Hall on Sunday, February 08, 2015.

Dr. Jorgensen obtained his MSc in Civil Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark in 1962, his MBA from Copenhagen Business School in 1974, and his Ph.D. from the University of Copenhagen in 2010. In the period from 1964 to 1978 he worked eight years on various infrastructure projects in Iran and became intimately acquainted with the country, its people and its language. He saw his first Iranian ice house in Kerman in 1966, but it was only in 2007—after a distinguished international career in engineering and project financing—that he was able to return to the almost forgotten Iranian ice houses and write a Ph.D. dissertation that forms the basis of this book.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Rouhani talked about book reviews, how to learn to compose oral and written reviews, as well as the issue of supervising the publication of books. “Of course, reviews are possible in a safe and open atmosphere; however we must first learn how to criticize,” the President said at the ceremony.

Addressing the participants, he continued, “You, the literati, must write books, articles and analysis, and write reviews; you must even tell us how a review should be written. I believe the experts in each field have better ideas.”

Talking about supervising book publishing, President Rouhani, in a veiled reference to existence of censorship in Iran, added: “I am not questioning whether or not supervision should or should not exist, rather that we cannot make one hundred principles for supervision. We can establish two or three guidelines concerning morality, national security and sanctities. You can add one more element to it, but the number should not reach one hundred.” 

He emphasized that supervising the publication of books must be entrusted to those in charge of books, adding: “Publishers, writers and scholars must come and give their opinions. If a book is published and read by readers, why should it go through a difficult process again for republication?” the President asked.

“Once, books were the only media, however new media are added every day. You, the great scholars must tell us how supervision on cultural issues should be, and your opinions will then be turned into regulations and laws, since a law rooted in experts’ opinions is stronger,” the President explained.

The ceremony was also attended by Mr. Ali Jannati,  the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, known in Iran as “Vezart-e Ershad,” which oversees censorship of the press and other media and issues guidelines commensurate with the Iranian government’s ideological underpinning.

Nearly 34 years after Iran’s revolution of 1979 that brought down the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979), Iran has still not officially joined the Berne Convention for International Copyright Treaties.  Many of the books published by foreign publishers, including this publisher, are routinely translated or occasionally reproduced without permission and in many cases translators may have to alter the actual words of the authors in order to fit the guidelines of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

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