Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Just Be Thankful

... you aren't a writer in these countries.

1) Iran

where according to Saeed Kamali Dehgan in the Observer authors are becoming increasingly disheartened and disinclined to work following the banning of many important contemporary and international novels. (I blogged a short time back about the banning of the Farsi translation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Memories of My Melancholy Whores.) The crackdown has included Persian books too, with writers finding it very difficult to get the official approval they need to publish.

Worse still:
The novelist Yaghoub Yadali was recently illegally imprisoned for 40 days by the government for several passages from his novel Mores of Unrest, a book which had ministry permission. He was eventually charged with dissemination of falsehood and sentenced to three months' imprisonment, as well as being required to write three mandatory articles. This led to an outcry among many Iranian writers, who believe that the government is invading the imagination
The internet is providing an avenue for authors though:
Reza Ghassemi, an important Iranian novelist based in France, recently published his new novel, The Abracadabra Murmured by Lambs, on the internet in a free ebook PDF format instead of facing government censorship and the formal permission procedure. His enovel has been reviewed and welcomed by the huge Iranian blog community much more warmly than if it had been published on paper.
2) Myanmar

where according to the People's Online Daily, authors have been urged :
... to serve the national interest and educate people with literature as well as to lead people applying modern arts, new thoughts, theories and ideas.
Nothing like using your art to prop up a corrupt regime, is there?

It's worth going back to Aida Edemariam's article here for a more realistic view of how things are. The delights include arrests, imprisonment and harassment.

3) Vietnam

where nothing at all seems to be happening on the literary scene. VietNamNet noted* that its authors seem to be in hibernation. Several prominent writers and poets passed on, which could be one the reasons.

Still government crackdowns on writers doesn't exactly create the optimum creative environment, does it?

To point out the obvious : good writing does not thrive under a totalitarian regime.

* found via Literary Saloon.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I suppose that would depend on what you consider good. There's Nabokov and Dostoevsky, both of which wrote under a very oppresive regime. Oppresive regimes have given birth to many good writers simply by giving them material to write about.