I just completed reading a book called Afsaneh: Short Stories by Iranian Women. I picked it up from the library (my mom got a membership at the Hyderabad City Grandhalay Samstha ie Government Public Library) in the hope of getting to know the life of Iranian women through a collection of short stories. But I must say, I‘m disappointed.
The compiler Kaveh Basmenji did not do a good job at compiling. I almost found a repetitive fashion. There were a couple of stories that had young women being married off to older men, or old widowed women having no place to go since none of their children could have them in their house, or of little girls not liking the way their loved ones not being able to be there for them, or of having to sell a house, or of having to live a lonely life, or of having to deal with the cold with their poverty. Yes, the compiler did not do a good job because each of the stories has its own essence and its own life.
There were some good and some bad because some women wrote well and some not so much. There were some which were written to express a feeling and there were some that were written for the western audience. There were some that told you a story and some that were too abstract. There were some that gave you a picture of the life there and some that were too abstract. There were some that were poetic and beautiful and some too abstract. But most of them always had a sad sad sad tinge to it, even if it needn’t be, like The Stain.
The ones that I did not like were the ones that were too abstract. I did not feel that the abstractness was poetic or deeply meaningful. Instead I felt they were abstract because the readers must feel they are poetic since they did not understand anything. Those were bad, almost annoying, like Crystal Pendants.
The ones the I liked were those with simplicity explaining a feeling or even a story with abstractness but with simplicity like Mana, Kind Mana. That along with The Shermin Bus and The Little Secret were probably my favourite. I also liked Khorramshahr-Tehran, Midnight Drum and Like a Well were nice as well.