This March, Iran lost one of its most beloved writers. Simin Daneshvar, one of those rare, exceptional talents from the country’s literary renaissance of the mid-Twentieth Century – a period from which only vestiges now remain – produced one of the most widely read and printed Persian novels of all time. Since its initial publication in 1969, Savushun has sold over half a million copies in Iran alone, has gone through roughly 16 printings, and has been translated in over 15 languages. Indeed, from both a literary and commercial perspective, the novel was nothing short of groundbreaking.
Set in Shiraz during the period of the Allied occupation of Iran (1941 – 1945), which saw Iran at its most abject state in decades, Savushun brilliantly captures the essence and spirit of the era, as seen through the eyes of Zari, a young wife and mother. After deposing of Reza Shah, the then-ruler of Iran, for his unwillingness to provide support against the Germans, among other things, the Allied forces – particularly Britain and Russia – placed the young Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (the last Shah) on the throne, and for all practical purposes, occupied the country. While the Russians exercised their influence in the North, the British took control of the oil-rich South.