I am pleased to announce that I am currently working on the English translation of Abnousse Shalmani's first book, Khomeiny, Sade et Moi, for the publishing house World Editions (the English language imprint of De Geus) who publish world literature and non-fiction with an emphasis on translations from Dutch and international literature (read more about World Editions here). Synopsis: In 1980s Tehran, a little girl of six, forced to wear the veil, rebels by getting naked. Complying with the demands of the 'Beards' and the 'Crows' seems absurd to her. Her father feels the same way and so to escape the oppression of Khomeiny's regime, the family leaves Iran for Paris in exile. However, Abnousse Shalmani discovers that her dreams of freedom are not all they are cracked up to be. Her rebellion is far from over. But this time she arms herself with French literature. The little girl, now a woman, uses the writings of Sade, Victor Hugo and Colette (among others) as her weapons in the fight against oppression in general, and of women's bodies in particular. The story is a blend of personal anecdotes and socio-political events, all told with lively humour.
Iranian-born French journalist Abnousse Shalmani bares all in her book, from rebelling against the regime by getting naked in the playground as a six-year old girl, to the challenges of learning how to live as an exiled Iranian with her family in her new homeland of France, via her discovery of nudity, her sexual awakening and the freedom that comes with reading the libertine literature of French 19th century writers such as the Marquis de Sade... This is a story of one woman's search for freedom from oppression in all facets of her life and is one that is recounted with fiery conviction and humour. Each chapter of the book takes the reader back and forth between her life in Paris and her childhood in 1980s Tehran, moving gradually through time, and unveiling her views on issues of feminism, (especially the oppression of the woman's body, which is her main focus) freedom, politics, religion, ignorance, identity, exile and integration. I am incredibly honoured to be translating this book, by such an interesting and bold female writer - she is intelligent, unabashed and funny, to boot - although I feel that by the time I have finished translating this book, my bookshelves are going to be full of pure filth in the form of erotic 18th century French libertine literature. People might start to wonder...
The English edition of Khomeini, Sade and Me is due for publication early 2016, by World Editions.
Here are some links (in French) to interviews with Abnousse Shalmani - she is great at interviews, it has to be said:
Arte 28' programme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2caada2ugVc
Interview with author Abnousse Shalmani and Malek Chebel, philosophor, regligious anthropologist, author of L'érotisme arabe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcM8bGgunOI