Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, by many estimates, is Iran’s preeminent living writer. Born to a family of modest means in a small village in Northeastern Iran in 1940, Dowlatabadi came of age in a time when Iran’s rural population was emigrating to the cities, looking for new lives and new ways of living. In this sense, he is one of a generation of new voices to seek their place within the field of modern Iranian literature, those not from the urban middle or upper classes. His work to date encompasses over ten novels, as well as many novellas and short stories. Any list of his major works would have to begin with his massive 5-volume novel Kelidar, and also include the novels Missing Soluch (English translation by Kamran Rastegar, published by Melville House Publishing, in the US in 2007) and The Legend of Baba Sobhan. Part of Dowlatabadi’s remarkable achievement has been the raw force of his literary style, and the subtlety of his prose – in particular in treating issues of poverty and marginalization.

* Interview by Kamran Rastegar, Tehran 2006.