Photo: Masoud

Literature of Iran

Shiva Arastui

Iranian Short Story Writer, Novelist & Poet
Shiva Arastui
Born in Tehran
Diploma in Health Assistance, Tehran University
Diploma in Industrial Public Health, Tehran University
BA in English Language, Azad University, Tehran
Thesis: The translation of "Hajji Baba" from English into Persian
1994, Four years studying "Fiction" at Reza Baraheni Workshops
Social Activities

1982, Medical Voluntary in war hospitals
Medical Voluntary in burn & accident hospitals
Cooperation with Dr. Barzegar in "Free Vaccination Project" for children in the south of Tehran
Cooperation in doctorate thesis "Industrial Public Health in Iranian Factories"
Medical Voluntary in earthquake of Roudbar
2004, Body building coach
Medical Voluntary in earthquake of Bam 

Teaching Grammar of English Language
to present, Personal Fiction Workshop Institute
She has taught numerous students; three of the best 2000's writers have studied in her workshops; two of them have won the best prize of Golshiri Foundation in 2001 and 2002.
Teaching "Fiction" in Art University, Tehran
Teaching "Fiction" in Farabi University, Tehran
Translations & Critic

Translation of "Anna Akhmatoa" from English to Persian (with Reza Baraheni)
1996, Art critic & literary critic in "Film Reportage Magazine" and other newspapers
Literary Critic on "Wandering Island", a novel by Simin Danesh-var, published in Takapou magazine; this critic is translated into English, as the introduction of the English version of the novel.
Movies Critic Book, on war movies, due to Ahmad Reza Darvish's movies
Translation of Forouq Farokh-zad's poem from Persian to English


2001, Consultant writer of war movies
Movies Critic Book, on war movies, due to Ahmad Reza Darvish's movies
Actor in avant-garde short movie, director "Parviz Jahed", based on a short story by Mohammad Qasem-zadeh
Actor in avant-garde short movie "Chaos", director "Maneli Azar Mehr", based on Forouq Farokh-zad's life (BA thesis)
Actor in avant-garde short movie, director "Azadeh Salimian" (BA thesis)
Actor in avant-garde short movie "Black Down", director "Bijan Mir Baqeri", based on the "Black Down" short story, by Jonpa Lahiri
Books: Poetry

Poetry collection/Roshan-garan Pub./85 pages/Persian language/43 poems from 1989-1994
"Let's Finish it"
Poetry collection/First edition, 2002, Guiv Pub./Second edition, 2004, Qatreh Pub./63 pages/Persian language/33 poems from 1994-2001
Books: Short Story


"I've Come to Drink Tea, With My Daughter"
Collection of a novelette and 6 short stories/First edition, 1997, Markaz Pub./Second edition 2001, Qazal Pub./Third edition, 2003, Markaz Pub./95 pages/Persian language/
First story, "I've Come to Drink Tea, With My Daughter", is the narration of the life of a woman, who is going to act in a movie of her previous husband, the director. Each story in this collection is an effort of the writer to experience new forms in her works.
Collection of 10 short stories/First edition 2002, Guiv Pub./Second edition 2003, Guiv Pub./Third edition 2004, Markaz Pub./104 pages/Persian language/
An exact experience of the subjective manners of Iranian today's women, sometimes scoffing, and also explanation of the human relations, remembering nostalgic reminiscences in suitable forms of story and indirect explanation of the women in the society are the main themes of all the short stories in this book.
"I'm not Virgin"
Collection of short stories/2005/Qatreh Pub./Persian language
These stories contain mostly the problems and specialties of Iranian women from different classes. Form in these stories are more conscious and more complete. The language of the narration is neutralized to the real narrations.
Books: Novel





"Just I Saw Him, Became Pretty"
Novelette/First edition, 1991, Roshan-garan Pub./Second edition, 2004, Qatreh Pub./72 pages/Persian language/written on 1989-1991
A modern narration of the different phases of the life of a nurse. The structure of the narration shows the experience of the subjective and objective language, both together. The relation between she and her father "Abu-Taleb", who suffered from Epilepsy, death; war-wounded-mad soldier, who is hospitalized, in coma; her relation with the imagination of young Abu-Taleb; her relation with the boy or girl, victim of the earthquake; and in the center of the relation, the subjective conversation of the narrator with an imaginary sperm, which she wishes, she had it from her lover, are the most important themes of the novelette. Shahrzad, the narrator of all the other stories of the writer, became the archetype mother and the earthen archetype women in this story.
"Bi-Bi Shahrzad"
Novel/First edition, 2001, Baran Pub., Sweden/Second edition, 2004, Qatreh Pub., Tehran/164 pages/Persian language/Some parts are translated and published in Swedish language./This novel has won the Sweden Scholarship (Pen)./written on 1997-1999
It is the narration of a prostitute girl, by a painter. Beside the narration of her life, painter's life is shown. The story starts and finishes on the painting of the girl, which is drawn by the narrator. Using different views in this novel, results a new experience in the form and structure.
"The First Version"
Novel/1998, Elm Pub./220 pages/Persian language/
The narrator narrates the process of the writing of this book. It has created a new experience in the written experiences of Iranian writers: the Experience of the Writing of the Writing Process. It contains documentary phenomena of the period that the writer is born, attained and is writing.
"The Sky is not Empty"
Novel/Elm Pub./2003/152 pages/Persian language/
In the time of chain-terrors, the narrator, who is a writer herself, searching the reasons of her father's death (a poet), went to his home town. While writing a book on his father's life (Dashi) in this trip, her life is narrated, and it is identified with the myth of Anahita.
Novel/2005/Qatreh Pub./Persian language/
It is the narration of a woman's life, torture and then addiction. The main location is a mental hospital that the narrator is hospitalized there. In a Surrealistic and Metaphormistic approach, the hospital became the final place for all the people of the novel.
Novel/2005/Qatreh Pub./Persian language/
The narration of the life of 3 women; the first is an Iranian woman, who travels to Europe as a tourist; the second is an immigrated Iranian women to Europe; and the last one is a Swedish woman. The life of each three women causes another narrations. Situation in this novel has the main role to construct the form.

Pen (Sweden Scholarship), for "Bi-Bi Shahrzad" book, for two years (March 2001-2003); she used only six months of this scholarship; Shiva Arastui donated the rest of the period to the Iranian poet, Maryam Houleh and her family.
Golshiri Prize, for "Aftab-Mahtab" book
Yalda Literal Prize, for "Aftab-Mahtab" book
The idea of the Jury:
In her works, the motion toward subjective writing of the woman, while using feminine story arrangement, successful transformation of the spaces, 
changing personages and writing of unsaid experiences are distinguished and characterized.
Shiva Arastui lives and works as a professional writer; her high degree of social activities, allow her to write more near to the reality of her home. She has done many interviews; a lot of critics is written on her works, while she has written a large number of critics and introductions on poems, short stories, novels and movies.
Fridays (Short Story)
"Dadash" was late. Shahrzad looked at the big clock, above the head of colonel's wife. At every tic tack, an eye with an artificial eyelash, winked near the face of the clock, at the corner above. A red mouth, with big lips laughed at the bottom of the plate. When the hour struck, the eye remained open, the lip gathered and whistled.

The clock had whistled seven times, from the moment Shahrzad and her mother had reached at the saloon. Several customers had whistled along with the clock and exclaimed, "Oh... I'm late..." Then they had quickly paid the colonel's wife and they had walked out of the door.

Mother arrived earlier at the job on Fridays. Fridays, she kept the key. On Fridays, the colonel's wife arrived after the lunch. On Fridays, Shahrzad came to the salon along with Mother, too.

Razmik untied a cluster of hairs from a big curler. He tossed the curler into the basket, beside the mirror. On the large head under his hands, another dozen curlers were strapped. Zahra was sweeping the hair droppings into a dustpan. Razmik called her and asked her to help him. A fat woman, whose hair Razmik had cut and dropped to the ground, was cleaning the tiny hairs at her nape. Shahrzad was watching the movement of the brush between the woman's fat neck and she was slowly scratching the back of her neck. Like always, the colonel's wife was whispering in the telephone receiver. The fat woman smoothed her skirt in front of the mirror and she walked to the colonel's wife's desk, to pay.

Razmik unloosened the fifth cluster of hairs from the curler set on the big head. He pushed the round and big brush from the root of the hair to the tip. Zahra was bringing down her portable drier in tune with the movement of Razmik's hand, when Dadash opened the door and stepped inside. The Raindrops, which drummed at the window, was dripping down, from the top of his umbrella to the ground. He shut the door against the chill behind him. Shahrzad watched the clock. She would walk out with Dadash, when it whistles after 10 minutes, and, so they had enough time to catch the film's next séance. She hugged Dadash. She kissed him. Razmik tossed his round and big brush in front of the mirror and he walked to Dadash. Mother was still washing the dirty towels in the bathroom.

The colonel's wife asked about Dadash's lessons and the university. Colonel's wife, every Friday, questioned about the number of units he had passed and she forgot them again. Every Friday, Dadash answers more impatiently and more superficially. This time, he didn't answer at all. He told Razmik: "Have you heard the news?" 

The colonel's wife didn't like Razmik and Dadash discuss the "news". Every Friday, when Razmik and Dadash exchanged the news, she picks up a record from among Razmik's records; she put it on the gramophone and let it play, with loud volume.

Mother walked out of the bathroom, with a large basket full of laundry. The colonel's wife, Fridays, puts her garments along with dirty towels and aprons for her, to wash. Mother wouldn’t pay any attention. The colonel's wife pays tips well.

Dadash wasn't in a good mood. Shahrzad wanted to get out soon, to wear the new cap that her mother had woven for her. She wanted to wrap the red woolen shawl around her neck, and under Dadash's black umbrella, she loved to walk to the movies, as the rain was falling. A drier in her hand, Zahra was standing overlooking the head, knotted with curlers, and she was waiting Razmik. The singer was shouting at the gramophone "... Blood drops instead of rain on Fridays..." Dadash's umbrella was not still dry.

Razmik offered cigarettes to the colonel's wife and Dadash. The three lighted their cigarettes. Shahrzad's glance fell on the clock. Fridays, this time, it was the best time to go to the movies. But, this Friday, Dadash had no attention at all. Mother was rinsing the clothes in the cold veranda and she was saying, "Who would go to the movies in this rain?"

Dadash was gazing at the window and pass puffing at his cigarette. Razmik had gone to remove the remaining curlers from the head and smooth the hairs. Smooth hair was the fashion of the day. All the women came to the hairdresser; they smooth their hairs. Shahrzad preferred curling hairs. Her hairs were neither smooth nor curling. In winters, she loved the caps, her mother has woven for her. She didn't care about her hairs. This Friday, Dadash neither looked at her hair nor her new cap, or her red shawl. He was dropping the cigarette ash into the ashtray and he was watching the rain. He has worn his white shirt. Nahid had bought it for him. Shahrzad loved Nahid. Nahid always watched Dadash. She wouldn't let him be unhappy or angry. Dadash would calm down, whenever he sees Nahid. Shahrzad loved Nahid very much. Mother says, "Nahid is fat! She will ruin her figure as soon as she gives to her first baby."

Dadash was saying, "She isn't fat, she is solid. It’s good too."

Shahrzad thought in the same way, too.

Dadash was saying, "Besides, Nahid is not a woman, who will breed children."

Shahrzad thought, "How bad!"

Mother would say, "Wah, wah! Then leave her for herself!"

Shahrzad feel sorry.

Dadash would say, "I haven't married her to give her up!"

Shahrzad feel sorry again.

Mother said, "Love and loving is in this age..."

Shahrzad thought, she had to be careful, she wouldn’t fell in love.

Since that mid-night, when three ill-tempered strange men had knocked at their gate and they had forced themselves and they had carried father away, mother didn't permit Shahrzad to get out alone. As if those three were supposed to steal and carry Shahrzad away, too. On that night, one of them had glanced at the Shahrzad's horrified eyes; he had sneered and he had said to the father, "You would be human, when your daughter turns into woman, in front of you!"

Father had attacked the guy. He had yelled aloud. Shahrzad had wished, she would never become a woman. She wished to remain small. Fridays, she goes to the movies, with Dadashi and Nahid. She eats sausage sandwiches. She wants to wait the remaining days of the week, until father returned home and they could paint together.

Dadash removed the disk from the gramophone. Shahrzad was glad. It was a long time, since the clock had whistled its last whistle. Nahid has told that they would go to see the “Cow” movie this week. Shahrzad had said, "No. Let's to go ‘Chicho and Franco’ movie!" Dadash had laughed: "Yes they are more cows!" Nahid had said that she would take her to the “Chicho Franco” movie, later on. This Friday, they neither saw the "Cow" nor " Chicho and Franco". The eye of the clock didn't wink. It remained open. Its mouth whistled and Nahid entered, too. The colonel's wife gave the key to the mother. She had lipstick to go out. The head has no more curlers. Her long, smooth and black hairs get out of the door. Zahra cleaned the mirrors. She didn't get out. She asked Nahid, "Are you sure the TV will show it?" "They have announced that they will stage it," Nahid answered. "Let's wait for a few minutes."

When the colonel's wife has got out, Razmik put on the TV. Shahrzad looked at the face of the clock and grimaced. Mother cast a reproaching glance. Razmik lighted her a cigarette. Mother locked the door from inside. She lay on the sofa, in front of the TV. She set her cigarette vigorously. When Shahrzad saw the image of the man, she recognized him. Rain still drummed at the window. The man was standing behind a desk, in a court. Mother asked Dadash to lower the sound of the TV. Dadash said, "His voice is not crime!"

Razmik said, "They are broadcasting his voice, themselves."

The man has put his two hands on the desk, lifted his head and he was talking aloud. Shahrzad has seen the man in one of the cafes, where the father used to take her. She could never forget the man's thick mustaches, when he recited poems for his father in the restaurant. Father would say, "This is not a poem; it is slogan!"

The man said, "Slogans incite masses to move."

Shahrzad has learnt that "masses", used by the men in the restaurant, meant people.

Father was saying, "The masses should first think with poetry; then they should move."

Shahrzad loved father's poems. She loved the man's slogans too. But, she didn't know, who should incite the masses to move and where they have to go. When she had asked Mother, why they had beaten and taken her father away, she had said, it was because of his poems. Shahrzad has desired that father would have painted instead of writing poems. Dadash has read father’s poems for Razmik. Nahid sometimes murmured Father's poems, too. Shahrzad feared. She remembered the strange man's sneering lousy look. She didn't want to become a woman, especially in front of her father’s eyes."

The man stooped down and faced the crowd. His hands were still on the desk. He was standing. He said aloud, "I am not bargaining for my life in this court."

Zahra had washed her hands. Now she was rummaging the drawers in front of the mirror to find the lotion. Mother beckoned at Zahra to stop making noise. Zahra sat down silent, her back against the mirror, and she fixed her eyes upon TV. The man's voice was booming from behind the same thick mustaches that shook, when he recited poems or slogans. He was speaking about tiny drops and about the magnificence of masses in Iran. Dadash was lighting cigarettes one after another. Nahid was watching him secretly. Mother was sighing and cursing.

Shahrzad was waiting to see her father in TV. He missed her father. Mother had said, father had secretly had gone to a foreign country, from Iran. She said, he was told to send a European doll for Shahrzad. Shahrzad couldn't believe her. Father's friend has said aloud in the TV that he was speaking just for the sake of masses and that he would better go and sit down if he was not free to speak. Now, it was too late to go to the movies. Shahrzad didn't want father's friend to go and sit down. She wished, he would continue speaking. In her heart of heart, she wished, they would show her father for a moment in the TV.

They didn't show father. They showed two women. Two heads. One of them with smooth and long and black hairs and the other with curling hair. Shahrzad didn't like either. If father's friend was right, so the women were bargaining for their lives. They didn't speak about masses or drops or magnificence or the pretty things that father's friend had been said. They were only two black heads that bargained for their lives. They wanted to remain alive. They wanted to come and sit in front of the mirror, under Razmik's care and curlers and the hot drier. They smooth their hairs again and again, then to get away and return with curling hairs, so that Razmik would smooth their hairs again. Smooth hair was very popular.

Shahrzad was scratching her neck, when they took away father's friend. TV was still showing him. Razmik and Dadash were both silent. Mother was crying slowly. Zahra was astonished. Nahid was carefully watching the rain that continued to rattle and drub at the window. It was dark. They had said that father's friend would be hanged. When they were taking him away, he passed through the two heads. When he was passing, the head, with smooth and long hair, embraced the other head with curling hairs, with joy and kissed her. The two heads were laughing. They had been pardoned. Shahrzad didn't know, why the man's head had to be severed from his body and the other two heads had been spared. She only missed her father and her neck was scratching. She had wrapped the red shawl around her neck. She put her new cap. "Shahrzad, should we go to ‘Chicho and Franco’ movie?" Nahid asked.

Mother didn't protest, even if it was too late. "No," Shahrzad said.

Razmik said, "I am going to buy sausages sandwiches Shahrzad. OK?"

The smell of the cold leftover meat penetrated Shahrzad's nostrils. She jumped and ran to the lavatory. Nahid walked behind her. Shahrzad was vomiting. Mother was throwing the brushes and curlers in their respective baskets. Zahra was murmuring the Friday song. Shahrzad was seeing everything from the mirror in the lavatory. She vomited and vomited. Dadash and Razmik were scratching their necks unduely. Since that Friday, Shahrzad nauseated, when she smelled sausage.


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