Readings, Talk

Iran: The end of the war, the Fatwa, and the death of a leader

Themed Days

Fri, Feb 20, 2009
5 pm
Free admission

The writers Shahrnush Parsipur (Richmond / USA), and Natasha Amiri (Tehran) in conversation with Navid Kermani, Islamic scholar and writer (Cologne).

German translations read by the actress Laura Tonke.

With the end of the first Gulf War, which cost well over a million people their lives, the Iranians hoped that they would be able to live a halfway decent life again. However, the Iranian regime stepped up the pressure so that it could maintain control over public opinion. Thousands were executed in purges. Khomeini, the Revolutionary Leader, not only called for the assassination of Salman Rushdie, but also had his designated successor, Mr. Montazeri, placed under house arrest for criticising human rights' violations. When the Revolutionary Leader died, millions flocked to his funeral. However, the epoch that began with his death is not over yet. Three generations of Iranian writers, including names such as Shahrnush Parsipur and Natasha Amiri, have been invited by Navid Kermani to recall the seminal events of the time and reflect upon where their country stands now, twenty years later.

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The participants

1989 - Global Histories: The participants

Natasha Amiri, Author and Critic, Tehran. Born in 1970, Amiri began writing her first short stories in 1995, after meeting the author Ghazaleh Alizadeh. She has received numerous awards in Iran, including first prize from the literary magazine Asr-e-Panjshanbeh and the Iranian People's Prize for her debut novel “House of Stories”. Her novels and short stories have not yet been published in German.

Navid Kermani, Journalist and Islamic scholar, Cologne. The habilitated Orientalist with a German and Iranian passport was a Long-Term Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin until 2003. He now lives in Cologne as a freelance author. He has received numerous awards for his academic and literary work, and most recently was a resident fellow at the Villa Massimo in Rome. He is a member of the German Academy for Language and Literature and the German Islam Conference. In 2008, he was made a Permanent Fellow at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. His forthcoming book "Who is We? Germany and its Muslims" (t.) will be published by C. H. Beck.

Shahrnush Parsipur, Writer, Richmond, USA, born in 1946, was a producer for the Iranian state television since 1967. In 1973, she began studying sociology at the University of Tehran. In 1974, she published her first novel; the same year she resigned in protest of the torture and subsequent execution of two artists by the Shah’s regime. Imprisoned for a year, she fled to France where she wrote her second novel. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, Parsipur returned to Iran. Without a formal indictment, she was tried again and sentenced to four years and seven months. Her novel “Touba and the Meaning of Night" (1989), which she wrote in prison, was a national bestseller. After further arrests and the banning of her books in Iran, Parsipur went into exile to America in 1994. In 2003, she was awarded the first International Writers Project Fellowship from Brown University, Providence/Rhode Island. She has published eleven books, including her latest work "Men from Various Civilizations" (2007).

Laura Maori Tonke, Actress, Berlin, studied theater until 1996 in Berlin. At age 17, she debuted in Michael Klier’s feature film "Ostkreuz.” Numerous roles followed in feature films and television as well as model contracts. In 2000, Tonke won a Golden Camera for “Best Young Actress”. She was nominated for a German Film Award for her role as Gudrun Ensslin in the film "Baader" in 2003.