This English version of The Book of Shapur has been many years in the making. It started as a personal lament that I couldn't read one of my best friend's writing because most of what he writes is in Farsi. Then we translated it together.
There are many reasons to purchase and read The Book of Shapur. I give you five.
1. Read A Unique and Wonderful Piece of Writing
Alimorad is a well respected Persian writer. He has published many novels, short stories and longer pieces of writing over the past forty years. Very little has been translated into English. Now the English speaking world has the unique opportunity to read what Ali calls a favorite in his massive body of work.
I won’t say it is easy writing, though. Ali can be confusing at times and you have to work a bit to understand. But Ali is absolutely beautiful and perfect in his ability to describe the truth of what it means to be human. It’s worth the extra effort.
I need a flower so I can sit in its shade says The Book of Shapur. Otherwise, any wall will do, but the shade from a flower, something natural and normal, will bring peace.
It sticks with me, and lines from the novella flash in my head as I go through my day. Somehow, Ali manages to make the life of an exile apply to my own daily non-exile life.
It is as if you go a long way to go to the sea and when you get there, they tell you the sea is too rough and you have to swim in a pool.
It’s a simple thought, but we all know the disappointment of real life turned antiseptic.
2. Learn About Iran's Culture, History and Literature.
You don’t have to know these things in order to read and understand the story, but The Book of Shapur gives you the opportunity to learn more.
3. See the World In A New Way
The Book of Shapur is heartbreaking. It will bring you closer to understanding the world of being in exile. You will know just a bit what it is like to be forced to leave your country without hope of returning, experience the pain and loss of watching helplessly as the life you left behind is destroyed piece by piece.
This is the closest you will come to knowing without actually experiencing it for yourself.
This download page is part of a three website collaboration.
Then check out Dancing With Chains: Notes on Iranian Translation on Matador Network’s The Traveler’s Notebook where I describe the process of working with Ali to translate this piece as well as what makes this piece different from most of what you’ll read about Iran.
Finally, download the entire novella for a 10USD suggested donation. You also have the option to pay what you wish by editing the purchase price. Click on the Add to Cart button and edit the purchase price to whatever amount you want to donate.
5. Do Something To Help Others
Half of your purchase goes to support international development through the International Rescue Committee. If you choose to donate more than the suggested 10USD, the additional amount will go directly to the IRC.
Originally, we were leaning toward an Iranian charity, but it is very difficult to make sure what happens at those charities is 100% legitimate. It is truly unfortunate, but no one wants to see a donation go anywhere other than help people, so we changed our minds.
The International Rescue Committee is a well known, 501-c3 established group. The work it does is also well known and documented. Ultimately, though, we chose the IRC because we have contacts in the organization.
When their name first came up, I immediately contacted my friend Christine – an amazing traveler I met years ago when taking an herbal medicine and homeopathy course through NYC’s Open Center.
Christine traveled and worked for the IRC in the Middle East. I have personally heard first-hand the kind of support they provide bringing food and clean water, bolstering personal freedoms and providing medical care and education worldwide, including in Haiti where your support is now desperately needed after the recent 7.0 earthquake caused untold damage.
So if you want to read the whole thing? Just let me know.
All photos courtesy of Hamed Saber