Read The Colonel by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi Tom Patterdale Online


A pitch black, rainy night in a small Iranian town. Inside his house the Colonel is immersed in thought. Memories are storming in. Memories of his wife. Memories of the great patriots of the past, all of them assassinated or executed. Memories of his children, who had joined the different factions of the 1979 revolution. There is a knock on the door. Two young policemen haA pitch black, rainy night in a small Iranian town. Inside his house the Colonel is immersed in thought. Memories are storming in. Memories of his wife. Memories of the great patriots of the past, all of them assassinated or executed. Memories of his children, who had joined the different factions of the 1979 revolution. There is a knock on the door. Two young policemen have come to summon the Colonel to collect the tortured body of his youngest daughter and bury her before sunrise. The Islamic Revolution, like every other revolution in history, is devouring its own children. And whose fault is that? This shocking diatribe against the failures of the Iranian left over the last fifty years does not leave one taboo unbroken....

Title : The Colonel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781906598891
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 243 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Colonel Reviews

  • Petra X
    2019-05-17 03:16

    This book is banned in Iran because the author will not allow the censors to edit it to reflect their own partisan view of history. It is about one family, in one night where the cold and the rain never cease. Everyone in the family is fighting for or supports a different faction, the Shah or the Ayatollah or the government regime which isn't quite the same thing. The son-in-law is out to play sides against the middle for what he personally can get out of it. The torturer who is not a family member, has no allegiance, he just tortures for whichever side will employ his services. Torture, murder, insanity, clandestine midnight burials in the mud and rain, all feature in the chaos Iran descended to in the 80sThe protagonist is an unnamed colonel and a constant presence in the book is his hero, represented only by a picture, the Colonel (with a capital C) whose political agenda was completely different - he tried to rid the country of foreign powers. Even the most sympathetic of the characters, the colonel,who is presented as a good family man, thinks nothing of honour killing in his own family and expects his son to approve of his murder of his mother and the inevitable, appalling death of his 14 year old sister, not to mention the beating and subjugation of another one. There are no other women in the book. But then in Iran as in other Muslim fundamentalist societies there are no women allowed to have a voice that speaks above a whisper.There is nothing uplifting, humorous or even identifiable about this book. It is miserable and depressive and the rain, the endless cold rain that soaks to the skin, is the setting but also the summary of the misery of this book.5 stars. It was brilliant but by no means an enjoyable read._____Notes on reading (view spoiler)[I"ve been reading this since August when I got my first smartphone (view spoiler)[Luddite, right? (hide spoiler)] and went to Miami. I read it on the plane, I read it on the buses, I read it while waiting for the coffees to turn up. Now I read it in bank queues, so it's really slowed up. I guess I am about three-quarters of the way through. I have to say the experience of reading on a screen is nothing like as enjoyable as holding a nice paper book. It's just words, no cover, no seeing my progress, pages on the left increase, pages on the right decrease. It doesn't lie around looking appealing saying, 'pick me up and read me'. It isn't decorative, it's just words. The book is unremittingly depressing. There has been not one single sentence filled with joy, or even tinged with it. It's executions, torture, persecution, death with the consequent rushed funerals in the night, poverty and rain, rain, rain. Iran seems to have been a very sad place to live during the revolution. I hope, despite the appalling politics of the leaders that day-to-day life has improved for the men. Men? Women scarcely figure in the book. One daughter killed in her early teens. The wife of the main protagonist killed by him as she was unfaithful (son approved of this). Another daughter married to a man who is very controlling or perhaps that's just the normal Muslim way out there. That's it for women. The book is all about men. That's how a lot of the Islamic countries of the Middle East seem to be, all about men. Don't women have a voice or is that as shrouded as their bodies? (hide spoiler)]Read 5 Sept 2014 - 18 Dec 2015, reviewed 29 Mar 2016

  • Tariq Mahmood
    2019-04-27 23:22

    As a Pakistani, I find the Iranian revolution fascinating. It is a lesson for all Islamist apologists in what can go wrong. Dowlatabadi does a faboulous job in presenting a very dark picture of post revolutionary period where everything is breaking down, chaos; and among this chaos the protagonist a nameless colonel is trying to live an ordinary life, pruning himself, dealing with all issues as normally as possible. It's the portrayal of human nature at its most vulnerable state. This quest for normality surrounded by unimaginable chaos is a very real but never spoken about human trait. This evolutionary ability to strive to be normal represents the spirits quest for survival. The spirit deludes itself, with lies and justifications in order to keep on living. Dowlatabad presents it beautifully. Than there is the immortal Khowaja Khizer, which for me was the most intriguing character of this very dark tale. For me he represented another set of human traits, justification/reason and quest for power. Quest for power justifies reasoning any injustice. This is a difficult and complicated force which has no right or wrong but it is very real palpable and real entity, which we all experience on almost a daily basis. The only reason I gave 4 stars to this absolute masterpiece was because a lot of context is needed before the book can be fully enjoyed. I have been lucky as I have a few Iranians in my study group who have guided me through its confusing parables and historical contexts.

  • Saman Kashi
    2019-04-22 00:16

    جوانی...جوانی!... شخص جوان انگار قطرتاً محجوب آفریده شده، اما در وجودش قدرت و استعداد غریبی هست که با سرعت کم نظیری می‌تواند او را تبدیل به یکی از وقیح‌ترین جانوران روی زمین بکند. جانوری که در طول تاریخ از هیچ کار و از هیچ رفتار جنابت باری ابا و پروا نداشته باشد. شاید با وقوف و اتکا به همین قابلیت است که همیشه مهیب‌ترین جنایات تاریخ بر عهده‌ی او گذاشته می‌شود. سفارشی که جوان بارها و بارها موفقیت خورد را در انجام آن ثابت کرده است. چه کار و پیشه‌ای! لیکن... ما چه؟ ما که بی‌خواسته و به خواسته نواله‌های خمیر را این جور به کوچه می‌فرستیم تا به صورت دست‌مایه‌هایی در اختیار اولین دلال‌های شقاوت قرار گیرند و منتظر می‌مانیم تا نواله‌ای که از دست خود ما قاپیده شده به مثل شمشیری به سوی خودمان برگردانیده شود؟

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-04-26 03:13

    داستان یک خانواده ارتشی پیش و پس از انقلاب است

  • Trish
    2019-04-27 05:12

    This summer the Iranian government issued a postage stamp on the novelist Dowlatabadi’s 74th birthday commemorating his lifetime of work. Despite the regime’s professed respect for the art of the novelist, Dowlatabadi’s The Colonel is still not published in his own country. It was first published in Germany, where it was shortlisted for the 2009 Haus der Kulturen Berlin International Literary Award. After publication in Britain, the novel was longlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize and it won the 2013 Jan Michalski Prize for Literature based in Switzerland.This novel was begun by Dowlatabadi in the 1980’s and periodically added to and amended until the author declared it ready for publication in 2008. It relates the story of a man, a military man of discipline and principles, who appears torn asunder by the change sweeping his country and his family in light of the 1979 revolution against the Shah which was the end of a 2,500-year history of monarchies. His wife is dead by his own hand for her adultery, and three of his children have been killed, two for their anti-Islamic tendencies, and one as a martyr for the cause of the new Islamic state under Khomeini. Two children remain, but the eldest son is sunk in an unresponsive nihilism as a result of the failure of the Communist faction he supported, and his daughter Farzaneh is married to an opportunist who shifts his allegiances with the changing political leadership.One of Dowlatabadi’s great skills as a novelist is reputedly to use language in an earthy yet lyrical way. We cannot enjoy the original Persian, but we can see the straightforward way in which he draws his characters, exposing their weaknesses and failures while at the same time acknowledging that one could not have done differently. "The colonel had always let his children find their own way in life...But now he could not help but wonder whether the dreadful fate that had overtaken every one of his children was in fact due to his laissez-faire approach. But no, this did not really provide the old man with an easy answer, either. He firmly believed that he had bequeathed to his children only the most natural of rights, namely the right to determine what they wanted to do with their lives...In the end, perhaps the colonel's wish that his children lead independent lives was a reaction on his part against a life which he felt had been imposed upon him. He felt that he had been short-changed by never having had the freedom to live his own life. This made him feel like some sort of cripple...At least one of you should look out for himself. It's not as though you were carrying the weight of all history on your shoulders! I'm not as strong as you think I am. That's what he really wanted to tell his children."Dowlatabadi describes an interrogation session, torture, and what jail is like. He describes the total confusion and uncertainty among family members and the general populace for years after the revolution when the political winds shifted to and fro. He describes the agony of a parent who is despised by his children and who has to bury his tortured 14-year-old daughter on a rainy night without help from his family. He describes the guilt and desperation of educated and serious patriots who no longer believed in god or goodness as a result of what they have seen and how their understanding of their most basic rights as humans felt violated. Even though I have not had much opportunity to read Persian literature, there can be little doubt about how such an open and painful account of despair would be received by a sitting government."The colonel felt guilt, too--guilty for the very existence of his children, or lack of it, as the case may be."Apparently the present government in Iran would be willing to publish this novel in Persian if the author would make some changes, which he has refused to do. And yet, for his other work which is widely hailed in Iran as unique and masterful, Dowlatabadi is respected and honored by the postage stamp in his honor."One would think that boys were born coy, but there lurks within them a dreadful, perverse force that can, in the blink of an eye, turn them into savage beasts, beasts that since the beginning of history have been easily drawn into committing the most appalling of crimes, just to prove themselves. They follow orders to the letter and call what they do acts of heroism. Can we blame them? What about us, the people who send these unformed lumps of soft putty out onto the street, where they fall into the arms of the first merchants of villainy they come across? And we just sit back and wait for them to be turned into rods to beat our own backs..."This book is an important addition to the literature coming from the Middle East, and one hopes that one will never have read its like again.

  • Elahe
    2019-04-25 00:20

    فقط میتونم بگم دولت آبادی عالیه

  • Hakan T
    2019-05-04 03:09

    İran'ın yakın tarihini beş çocuklu bir babanın ekseninde vurucu bir şekilde anlatan "Albay"ı beklemediğim ölçüde sıkı buldum. Toplumsal ve siyasal gelişmeler karşısında çocukların farklı tercihleri trajik bir hikaye oluşturmuş. Devrimin çocuklarını yemesi, bazılarının ise her devirde yolunu bulması, kaybedenin ise daima halkın olması çok güzel işlenmiş. Yalnız bunları okuyup, didaktik, toplumcu gerçekçi veya benzer nitelikte bir roman olduğunu düşünmeyin. Geri-dönüşler, iç sorgulamalar, özellikle sonlara doğru hayalle gerçeğin iç içe geçtiği bölümler ve geneline hakim etkileyici bir üslup kitabı bence çok değerli kılıyor. Bana biraz da Marquez'i hatırlattı. Bir ülkeyi, bir toplumu daha da iyi anlamak için o ülkenin edebiyatını da okumanın gereğini teyid eden bir kitap. Ama anlatılan esasen evrensel bir durum.Devletabadi 25 yıl üzerinde çalıştığı bu eserini 2009'da tamamlamış. Ben 2012'de yayınlanan İngilizce baskısından okudum. Türkçe çevirisini de Kafka Yayınları geçen yıl basmış, bilmiyordum. İngilizce çeviride, göndermeleri, tarihsel arkaplanı anlamak için çok faydalı dipnotlar ve yine bilgilendirici bir sonsöz var. Umarım Türkçe çeviri de benzer şekilde yayınlanmıştır. Son olarak, Farsça yazılan kitabın İran'da hiç yayınlanamadığını, yasak olduğunu da belirteyim.

  • Oto Bakradze
    2019-05-19 06:23

    მიყვარს დასავლეთ აზიელი მწერლების პატრიოტული რომანების კითხვა.ესეც ერთ-ერთია. მოქმედება ვითარდება 80-იანი წლების ირანში, სადაც ისლამური რევოლუცია უკვე მომხდარია და ახალგაზრდების დიდი ნაწილი ვერ ეგუება მას. პროტაგონისტი ყოფილი პოლკოვნიკია, რომლის შვილებიც მეამბოხეები არიან, ხოლო სიძე იმ დროინდელი მთავრობის ჯალათი.მოკლედ, მძიმე მაგრამ კაი საკითხავი წიგნია.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-14 00:12

    I read The Colonel because it’s longlisted for the Shadow Man Asian Literary Prize. It’s the work of a distinguished Iranian author, and because it’s dissident literature subject to censorship, it’s been published only outside Iran, perhaps at some risk to its author. However I’m going to be upfront about this book: as regular readers of this blog know, I enjoy reading challenging books and books that introduce me to other cultures, but this one took me a long way out of my comfort zone. The Colonel is hard work to read.To read my review please visit - but be warned it's rather long!

  • Sahar
    2019-04-29 02:20

    اگرچه ترجمه ی کتاب بسیار خوب و روان بود اما باعث تاسف است که می بایست چنین اثری از نویسنده ای چون آقای دولت آبادی را به زبان دیگری خواند! همانطور که همه جا بیان شده این کتاب سرگذشت یک کلنل و خانواده اش در قبل و بعد از انقلاب می باشد. این داستان راوی جهتگیری های متفاوت افراد در آن زمان و سرنوشت های هر قشر می باشد. فضای تاریک و ناامید خاص حاکم بر داستان و شخصیت پردازیها بی نظیر و کاملا ملموس است. کاراکتر کلنل و به ویژه مونولوگ های وی بسیار تاثیرگذار و در نوع خود شاهکار محسوب می شود. رویهمرفته از جمله کتابهایی ست که قبل از مرگ باید خواند و امیدوارم زمانی برسد که امکان چاپ و مطالعه کتاب در داخل کشور فراهم شود.

  • Afkham
    2019-04-26 00:11

    داستانی بسیار گیرا و قوی مملو از صنایع ادبی که نشان از توانایی نویسنده قهار در کاربرد به جای آرایه ها و واژه ها و عناصر داستان دارد. برهه ای حساس از تاریخ معاصر که از دیدگاهی بی طرف و صرفا ناسیونالیستی و در قالب شخصیت کلنل و خانواده اش نقل شده."چیزی که این رمان را در ادبیات نو فارسی منحصربه فرد می کند، صراحت آن است. نویسنده از هیچ کس و هیچ چیز دریغ نمی کند، و آشکارا با انواع ادبی، تابوهای اخلاقی و اجتماعی، حتی آنهایی که در فرهنگ اسلامی مقدس تلقی شده اند، مخالفت می کند. او با انجام این کار بر تناقضات عمیقی که کل جامعه را محکوم به شکست کرده، تاکید می نماید."

  • Tara
    2019-05-04 22:24

    *Contains Plot Summary & Possible Spoilers* A basic grasp of 20th Century Iranian history is advisable if you plan to read Mahmoud Dowlatabadi’s The Colonel, published in English last month by Melville House Books. Readers might be able to get by on the information provided by the publisher in footnotes and a glossary, but a little time spent on Wikipedia can’t hurt. The Colonel is both a political novel and a family drama – knowledge of the former is essential in understanding the latter. To complicate matters further: it also functions as a Persian fable.Two colonels are referenced in the title. The first, “the colonel” (always in lowercase letters), is the novel’s protagonist and one of its two narrators. He served in the military under the Shah. After Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was ousted the colonel was arrested and sent to prison. (I’m fuzzy as to whether this was because of his politics or because he killed his wife in a drunken rage). He has five children. The eldest son, Amir, witnessed his mother’s murder.Amir is the novel’s second narrator. His life, in many ways, mirrors that of his father’s. Both men have troubled pasts. Both men supported different, fallen regimes (Amir supported Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh who deposed, and was later deposed by, the Shah); both were imprisoned and tortured; both men played a part in their wives’ deaths. Their combined actions and choices – particularly their political choices – have led to the destruction of their family, contributing to the deaths of Amir’s two brothers and youngest sister. A second sister is married to a brutal opportunist who holds both his wife and her family in contempt. At the point where the story begins Amir and his married sister are the only children of the colonel still alive. We meet the other three in flashbacks. We learn the details of their deaths and, as the story unfolds, understand that they were sacrificed.The catalyst which sets the story into motion is a knock on the door in the middle of the night. The colonel is summoned to collect the body of his fourteen year old daughter, Parvaneh, from the police station. She died in custody and he must bury her before dawn in an unmarked grave. Two soldiers accompany him to assist with the burial, which turns into something of a farce… almost a comedy of errors (except it’s not funny). There is no women to bathe the body, they have no shovels to dig the grave, the rain never stops, the ghost of the colonel’s dead wife makes a tragic appearance… as does the ghost of the second Colonel.The second colonel of the title – The Colonel (always capitalized) is a historical figure. The details of his life would be familiar to most Iranian school children. Footnotes and the book’s glossary provide some detail. To my mind, his importance is more as a symbol and less as a man. The colonel keeps his picture in a place of prominence in his home. As he loses each of his children he places their photographs in the frame at The Colonel’s feet.Dowlatabadi moves back and forth between the colonel and Amir to tell the story. The Colonel is non-linear, filled with flashbacks, memories and hallucinations – making the timeline of events sometimes difficult to follow. I initially believed this was done on purpose to reflect the states of minds of the two narrators. To demonstrate how their individual psyches and family are deteriorating apace with the nation. But if Dowlatabadi meant for this novel to be taken as a fable then it’s possible that what I identified as hallucinations were meant to be visions or, even, actual occurrences. This is just one instance among many where I fell short as a reader. (Another being my failed attempts to grasp the amazingly complex political and cultural traditions depicted in the book).Iran seems to be a country where lines are constantly blurred – with so many regime changes and each member of the colonel’s family aligning themselves with a different political cause - friends and enemies are difficult to keep track of. It wasn’t entirely shocking when Amir welcomed his former torturer, a man named Khezr Javid, into his father’s home as a guest and hid him from the revolutionary mobs crowding the streets. Or for that same torturer to reappear later on dressed as a Mulla, now serving in the new government. Some passages in the book are incredibly disturbing to read. Particularly for a reader without the experience to recognize concrete fact from what is being shaped by the author’s opinions and artistry. Much like his character Amir, Dolwatabadi’s writing portrays him as disenchanted with and disenfranchised from his homeland. Reading these pages it’s difficult to find any redemption or hope for Iran. I don’t dispute the book’s brilliance, even I recognize the genius behind it. But for those readers (and I count myself among them) coming to these pages ignorant of the background material, The Colonel is an intense experience.My full review of The Colonel can be found here:

  • Anthony Roberts
    2019-04-25 04:29

    “The Colonel” by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi is a dark, demanding and shattering account of the immediate aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The story plays out as nightmare/fable/hallucination pitting historic Iranian ideals of pride and social justice against the crushing reality of each new regime’s ruthless quest for power. At its core this is a novel about betrayal and the madness it brings to all sides. For those not acquainted with Iranian history, this may be a maddening read too as you try to sort out all the characters, their allegiances and how they relate to Iran’s history.The story unfolds in flashbacks, internal dialogs and nightmarish visions as the protagonist, “the Colonel” attempts to retrieve the body of his youngest daughter who has been tortured then hung for passing out leaflets against the regime. This is but a small tip of the iceberg of the horrors visited upon the Colonel and all five of his children. The novel switches views between the Colonel and his eldest son, Amir, who fought as a communist in the revolution, only to see his friends and comrades purged as the Islamists consolidated power leaving Amir guilt-ridden and on the brink of suicide.The title “The Colonel” refers not only to the protagonist, who was an officer in the Shah’s army (and a bit of a madman who murders his wife in a drunken rage), but also to a painting of the protagonist’s hero, Colonel Mahhamad-Taqi Khan Pesayn, a famous Iranian nationalist from the early 20th century, and yet another victim of another Iranian regime. The protagonist ‘colonel’ (always lowercase) has many conversations and confessions with “The Colonel” hanging on his wall. This can be a bit confusing at times, but again, this is a story of madness so confusion comes with the territory.“The Colonel” is full of references to Persian heritage and the English translator, Tom Patterdale, does a good job of footnoting them to give English readers a deeper sense of the story. This is a powerful novel in English, but I’m sure it is even more so in the original Persian, and I say ‘Persian’ as Mr. Dowlatabadi shuns Arabic words and phrases much as Ferdowsi did in Iran’s epic national poem, “The Shahnameh”. We’re told that the author also writes in a more common ‘street’ vernacular, which would bring shades of meaning to his fellow countrymen, but are lost in this translation - another reason why this novel must be published in its original language.The author’s own history cannot be ignored when reading “The Colonel”. Mr. Dowlatabadi was imprisoned under the Shah’s reign by the notorious secret police, SAVAK, in a Kafkaesque circumstance of having no charges brought against him except that his novels where often found in the homes of subversives, therefore, he must be guilty of something. Mr. Dowlatabadi was released from prison in 1976 where he began writing again in secret. “The Colonel” was written in 1980 as the author watched the revolution turn into a bloodbath of brutal reprisals and summary executions coupled with the beginning of the Iran/Iraq war, which decimated a generation of young Iranian men. When the author finished “The Colonel” he hid it way for decades fearing the consequences of having his name attached to such a horrific account of the ‘glorious’ revolution. In 2012, the novel was published in English, but has yet to be published in its original language though it has been submitted to the IRI regime for approval, which is unlikely.This is a very dark, non-linear, novel full of nothing but despair, but written in a style that illustrates the author's masterful story telling skills. It's certainly not for everyone, but if you have an interest in Iran at one of its most pivotal and heart wrenching moments, this is an incredible read.

  • Mahboob
    2019-05-07 05:25

    شما میتوانید تمام آنچه را که می خواهید تغییر دهید, اما در پایان، تسلیم این سردرگمی میشوید و همه چیز را خراب میکنید....ما مجبور میشویم قبر فرزندانمان را خودمان بکنیم, اما مسعله ی تکان دهنده این است که این جرایم, آینده ای را می سازند که در آن جایی برای حقیقت و رستگاری بشری نیست. هیچ کس دیگر جرات گفتن حقیقت را نخواهد داشت......تمام اتفاقاتی که اطراف ما می افتد این را نشان میدهد, ارزشهایی که از پدران مان به ما رسیده اند دیگر کارساز نیستند. در عوض ما بذر بی اعتمادی, شک و تسلیم را کاشته ایم که به جنگلی از پوچی و بدبینی تبدیل شده است. جنگلی که در آن هرگز جرات نمیکنید اسمی از خدا حقیقت و انسانیت را به زبان بیاورید.......... ..............

  • Mahsa Mehrdad
    2019-05-01 00:35

    Great piece of work by Dowlatabadi. In this book, he depicts a nation as a family .He shows how each family member took a different path during the 1979 Iranian revolution and gradually alienated the others. Reading the book for me, as an Iranian reader, was like pieces of a puzzle falling into place. It shows how we are trapped in history and there is no get away from it. It is a difficult book as it is closely linked with Iran’s historical events that the reader should be aware of in order to enjoy the book completely. There are some notes at the end of the book which I found helpful.

  • Bee Halton
    2019-05-01 06:19

    15/03/12Awwww am exited to read this book suggested for this months read at the International Fiction Reading Group in Norwich. When I read the back of the book it's atmosphere reminded me of Isabelle Allende's "House of Spirits" even though it is not magical realism. I'll keep you updated what I think about it.11/04/12Today we will discuss it and I am glad I read it even though it was really hard work. Will go into more detail later on when I know if I am allowed to publish the review somewhere else as well because we were asked to write reviews by the publisher I think. But one I can say it is similar as well as nothing like the "House of Spirits".19/04/12At last I finished the review:The colonel get called in the middle of the night to attend to the funeral of his youngest tortured daughter. While going to the police station to get the body, preparing the funeral and getting home again he remembers the history of Iran from the Second World War up the revolution in 1979 as well as how his family is and was involved.This seems to be the content of Mahmoud Dowlatabadi's novel “The Colonel” recommended by PEN, published by Haus Publishing in July 2011 and translated by Tom Patterdale. But when you start reading you get sucked into a nightmare of traumatised characters who try to make sense of decades of Iran's governments which use violence and terror as means ruling.This “making sense” is mirrored in the reading experience as the book works with changing point of views between the colonel, his oldest son Amir who has been tortured by the secret service of the shah regime and a third person narrator. The reader also has to make sense of characters turning up from the colonel's and Iran's past (his wife, The Colonel, a foreign ambassador....) and it is not clear if they are ghosts or “just” in the colonels mind. Both the colonel's and his son's memories are intertwined with what happens in the present and the reader is challenged not only to make sense of another culture but also of the story line.Many have mentioned how accurate Mahmoud Dowlatabadi describes Iran's history from the Second World War up to the revolution in 1979 even though the author himself rather wants the novel to be judged by its literary importance. He wants it to be published in Iran but this historic accuracy seems to make it dangerous to the actual government and therefore it is still hold back by the Iranian authorities.For me this book is a brilliant description of the psychological reactions of citizens living in a society which is ripped apart by revolution. It uses the literary means of different points of view as well as the mixture of past and present to show how your psyche gets confused when there is hidden trauma and violence that you are helplessly confronted with. This book has many levels (a historic level, a personal level...) that need exploring which makes it a challenging reading experience but it is worth facing it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~15/03/12Ahhhhh ich kanns gar nicht erwarten dieses Buch zu lesen, das fuer diesen Monat bei der International Fiction Reading Group in Norwich vorgeschlagen wurde. Als ich die Beschreibung auf dem Buchdeckel las, fand ich, dass es eine aehnliche Atmosphaere hat wie Isabelle Allende's "Geisterhaus" obwohl es nicht zum Magischen Realismus gehoert. Ich werde Euch auf dem Laufenden halten, was ich darueber denke.11/04/12Heute werden wir das Buch diskutieren und ich bin froh, dass ich es gelesen habe obwohl es wirklich schwer war. Ich werde mehr dazu schreiben, wenn ich weiss, ob ich meine Besprechung auch woanders veroeffentlichen darf, da wir gefragt wurden, welche fuer den Verlag zu schreiben. Ich glaube es war der Verlag. Eines nur: Es war irgendwie wie "Das Geisterhaus" und irgendwie auch gar nicht.19/04/12 (Diese Besprechung beruht auf der englischen Version, da ich die deutsche noch nicht gelesen habe)Der colonel wird mitten in der Nacht aus dem Haus gerufen, um sich um das Begraebnis seiner gefolterten juengsten Tochter zu kuemmern. Waehrend er zur Polizeistation geht, den Leichnahm holt, das Begraebnis vorbereitet und wieder nach Hause geht, erinnert er sich an Iran's Vergangenheit vom 2. Weltkrieg bis zur Revolution 1979 und wie seine Familie dabei involviert war. Das scheint der Inhalt von Mahmud Doulatabadi's Roman "Der Colonel" vom PEN empfohlen, beim Unionsverlag Zuerich herausgegeben und von Bahman Nirumand uebersetzt, zu sein. Doch wenn man das Buch zu lesen beginnt, wird man in einen Alptraum traumatisierter Charaktere hineingezogen, die versuchen, mit Jahrzehnten von gewaltaetiger Herrschaft von Iran's Regierungen klar zu kommen. Dieses "klarkommen" wird in der Leseerfahrung wieder gespiegelt, da die Erzaehlperspektive zwischen dem Colonel, seinem Sohn Amir, der von der Geheimpolizei des Shah Regimes gefoltert wurde, und einem Erzaehler wechselt. Der Leser muss sich auch mit Charakteren auseinandersetzen, die aus der Vergangenheit des Colonels und Iran's auftauchen (seine Frau, der alte Colonel, einem auslaendischen Botschafter...)und es ist dabei nicht klar, ob sie Geister sind oder "nur" in der Fantasie des Colonels existieren. Die Erinnerungen des Colonels sind mit denen seines Sohnes und der Gegenwart des Romans verflochten, was den Leser herausfordert, nicht nur eine andere Kultur sondern auch die Handlung zu verstehen.Viele haben darauf hingewiesen, wie genau Mahmud Doulatabadi die Geschichte Iran's vom 2. Weltkrieg bis zur Revolution 1979 beschreibt aber der Autor selber moechte den Roman mehr von der literarischen Seite begutachtet haben. Er mochte den Roman im Iran veroeffentlichen und diese geschichtliche Genauigkeit scheint der dortigen Regierung gefaehrlich zu sein und so ist eine Veroeffentlichung im Iran noch nicht erlaubt. Fuer mich zeigt dieses Buch eine grossartige Beschreibung der psychologischen Reaktionen von Buergern, die in einer Gesellschaft leben, die von Revolution zerstoert wurde. Es benutzt die literarischen Stilmittel unterschiedlicher Erzaehlperspektiven sowie das Wechseln von Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, um zu zeigen, wie die Psyche von Menschen verwirrt wird, wenn sie hilflos mit verstecktem Trauma und Gewalt konfrontiert wird. Dieses Buch handelt auf vielen Ebenen (eine historische, eine persoenliche...), die es zu entdecken gilt, was das Buch eine herausforderne Leseerfahrung macht, die es aber wert ist.

  • Literary Review The
    2019-05-06 06:30

    By Matt McGregorFor The Literary ReviewSpring 2012 "Encyclopedia Britannica" In 1953, the CIA arrested the civilian Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadeq, and reinstated Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Mossadeq, a democrat who had nationalized the oil industry, was thrown into solitary confinement for three years. He spent the rest of his life under permanent house arrest. The Americans, with the help of the Israelis, proceeded to set up a secret police service—which would soon include expert torturers—to suppress Iranian dissent. This, along with the routine ignominy of being a client state, was used by many dissidents, including Ayatollah Khomeini, to stoke the embers of revolution.By 1978, the revolutionaries could point to an entire century of humiliation. Iran had long been the plaything of the great powers: The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company—more commonly known today as BP—was a crucial resource for the British Empire; the Soviet Union, with the help of the British, invaded in 1941; the Americans and Israelis spent half a century overtly interfering with Iranian sovereignty. As the revolution got underway, the political choices of young Iranians—as well as the trajectory of the new Iran—were always going to involve various kinds of nationalism. But Islamism was not the only game in town; and, as Mahmoud Dowlatabadi makes clear in his brutal new novel, The Colonel, the eventual supremacy of Ayatollah Khomeini, and the subsequent slaughter of his fellow revolutionaries, was one of the cruelest and bloodiest ends that could have been imagined. To Dowlatabadi’s credit, The Colonel does not give us redemption or sentimentality: the novel, like the revolution, is a chorus of unrelenting sorrow. In the face of this cruel, personal history, Dowlatabadi has wrought an affecting and beautiful novel.Thankfully there is a sense that things might have been otherwise in this thoroughly bleak, affecting, and beautiful novel—even if it is a minor, barely discernible note among all this sorrow.Over the course of a single day in 1988, a retired Colonel, maddened by age and grief, buries his youngest daughter in an unmarked grave and attends the public funeral of his youngest son. A second son, we soon learn, was killed in the revolution; a third is plotting suicide in the Colonel’s basement. His fifth child, the only true survivor, is married to a sadist. Some years earlier, the Colonel murdered his wife, using his army saber, in a drunken “honor killing.” While in some ways The Colonel is a cruel novel, from beginning to end, it is also very, very good. The talent of Dowlatabadi is to give both the nightmare of history and the pleasure of the text: he can at once spin a sentence and twist the knife. The book opens with the burial of the Colonel’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Parvenah, a religious pamphleteer, who has been executed by the Islamic regime. Officially an enemy of the state, Parvenah’s corpse is brought to the Colonel in the middle of the night. He is taken to an ambulance, where he is made to sit besides “a coffin that smelt of blood and guts and, with every bump of the road, her skinny little body was flapping around in it like a dead fish.” At the cemetery—given as “graveyard,” in Tom Patterdale’s generally Anglo-Saxon translation, which mimics Dowlatabadi’s decision to avoid any Arabic words introduced into Persian—the Colonel is forced to dig her grave, in the rain, while two policeman watch, “coagulated and frozen solid, like exclamation marks, beside the coffin.”Slowly, Dowlatabadi explores the constituent parts of total disaster. Amir, the most radical and hopeful of the Colonel’s children, is the novel’s most affecting symbol of ruin and waste. After spending time in the prisons of the Shah—where he is tortured with whips and electric nodes and is made to listen to his wife’s dying screams—Amir joins the revolution, on the side of the communists. His hatred of the Shah drives him to support the Islamists until they, as Dowlatabadi puts it, “began to take knives to his comrades’ throats.” After witnessing the brutality of Khomeini’s new world, Amir retires to his father’s basement, where he drops into a nihilistic funk. Against the indignity of living under the new Islamic state, and the facile half-life of getting and spending, he makes the case for suicide. “It is,” he tellshis sister, “with the white blade of silence that I can purify a world that accepts the ruin of an entire people and does nothing.”Amir’s brooding despair, his bleakly accurate pessimism, is at the core of the novel. He is suicidal; but he is not wrong. His nihilism appears as a perfectly rational response to a time when, as Dowlatabadi puts it, “The blood of the masses flowed so freely that there seemed to be no end to it.” The Colonel becomes increasingly trapped in the past. As he makes his way to the funeral of his young son, a victim of the Iran-Iraq war, he is accompanied by the headless ghost of Colonel Pesyan, a nationalist hero, as well as the bloody corpse of his wife. His visions grow manic: he has “Dreams of wild cries of despair, dreams of fathers taking their sons to end it all, and of women ripping open their wombs so that no seed should take . . . and screams, silent screams of despair, muffled as if through cotton wool.” The novel seems to mimic, as it slurs between the present and the past, the work of Malcolm Lowry. The best analogies for this novel, though, are drawn from the stage, in the choral speeches of Brecht, the political choices of Sophocles, and the stacked corpses of Thomas Kidd. “Everything,” as the Colonel says, “has been tipped out like the guts of a slaughtered sheep, for all to see.” This is, presumably, the point: we are thrown into the muck of history, and given no exit. Ultra-violent Islamists replace the ultraviolent Shah; winter follows winter. 1921 is followed by 1941, which is followed by 1953, 1988 and, with scores of Israeli bombers currently warming their engines, 2012. But Dowlatabadi has done something perverse, something almost unforgivable: he’s spun from this muck a beautiful, wretched novel. For more great readingSubscribe to The Literary Review

  • Mahrah
    2019-05-01 03:28

    اما آنها چیزی به تو نمیگویند! آنها تو را ناآگاه نگاه میدارند و مغز تو را میشویند تا زمانی که هر آنچه میگویند باور کنی.

  • Motahareh Nabavi
    2019-05-04 00:35

    Dowlatabadi has once again rendered me speechless, but I will use the few words I can summon to describe this piece. While "The Thirst" familiarized me with Dowlatabadi's immaculate prose and his ability to almost paradoxically bring to light erased political narratives by hiding them in his literature, "The Colonel" went even a step higher by piercing my heart with its bitter truths. This novel lyrically depicted the effects of the 1979 revolution on the opposing political groups, who in fact fought for the revolution but were later silenced, by placing them in one family and narrating their fate through their father's eyes, "the colonel". This novel is dark and brutally honest, something many people may not be comfortable reading but its dark honest is necessary, especially today when the popular narrative regarding the revolution is completely one sided and told as a fairy-tale with no negative repercussions, pulling a veil over all the opposing narratives which have been silenced, both figuratively and literally. Needless to say, the imagery and allusions of this novel with stay with me, or rather, haunt me, for a long time to come.

  • Mehdi Miri Disfani
    2019-05-20 00:37

    What a story and what a night! Colonel tells us what has happened to a nation and a country in a set of events all happening in one night! A very long night! Dark, stormy, muddy and frightening and very gloomy!I read the book twice since I like works of Dowlatabadi and specially the use of language in his works. The second time I read it specifically to find his tune and style between the translated lines! It is a big pity that I could not read "Colonel" in Farsi.The book goes through a set of events all happening in one night with references to past. What happens to Colonel and his kids is no stranger to Iranians. So many unfortunate events has happened and so many lives has been lost in name of one ideology or another, and sometimes in the name of Iran. Colonel takes us through our history; a history that does not have a winner but certainly has a looser; Humanity!I wish I can get hold of the original version of book to read it for the third time in its original language.

  • Nazanin
    2019-05-12 04:13

    An extraordinary combination of illusion, reality, and memory depicting a really fragile time at the history of Iran. Really hard to read, really sad...

  • Darryl
    2019-05-13 02:31

    This powerful novel is set in a town in Iran in the late 1980s, toward the end of the Iran-Iraq war, and roughly a decade after the overthrow of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the accession to power of Islamic fundamentalists, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The main character is 'the colonel', an unnamed disgraced former member of the Shah's army, who is so named because of his former title, but also because he reveres Mohammad-Taqi Khan Pesyan, or 'The Colonel', who is considered to be a hero by Iranian secular nationalists (but not Islamic fundamentalists) because of his sacrifice in attempting to free the country from foreign influences in the early 20th century. the colonel frequently speaks to and confides in the portrait of The Colonel in his home, as he lives in fear of what will happen to him, to his children who are missing under separate circumstances, and to his eldest son Amir, who refuses to emerge from the basement and seems to be descending into madness. On a rainy night two young police officers come to the colonel's door, to inform him that he is wanted by the local prosecutor. He follows them, and receives tragic news: his youngest daughter, who is not yet 14, has been murdered. He and the two policemen proceed to the local mortuary to claim the body, as it must be washed and buried before the dawn call to prayers. The night, like the rainfall, is seemingly unending. the colonel is plagued by fear and uncertainty, as he recalls and regrets his past actions and decisions, while reality merges into often nightmarish scenarios that make him question his own sanity. The lives of his children, his wife, a roguish son-in-law, and an 'immortal' former intelligence officer of the deposed Shah's feared secret police are weaved throughout the novel, along with frequent references to important figures throughout Iranian history. The individual stories merge in the manner of a tornado that forms and strengthens, as chaos and a foreboding sense of doom becomes ever present.The Colonel was published in 2008, after Dowlatabadi had worked on it for 25 years, and it has been published worldwide to critical acclaim. However, it remains in the hands of censors in Iran, as the author, who still lives in Teheran, continues to refuse to allow it to be edited to meet the demands of the current regime. It is a beautifully written but challenging read, due to its references to Persian history, although the translator, Tom Patterdale, does a superb job in providing brief footnotes throughout the book, along with an excellent afterword and glossary that is invaluable to the average reader. My comments don't do justice to the complexity and richness of this superb and highly instructive novel about a country that is important to the Western world, but one that continues to be a worrisome enigma to most of us.

  • Lillian
    2019-05-15 00:33

    What a dark, tough read. There is a note at the back of the book that helped me get a grip on the darkness. It explains how Dowlatabadi came to write this novel. He had just finished writing a 10 volume, 3,000 page epic, Kelidar, that deals with life in a rural village in north-eastern Iran in the 1940's. While he was immersed in writing Kelidar, he shut himself off from the modern world in many ways to concentrate on the different time period. Upon returning to the reality of life in modern day Iran -- life after a revolution that so many Iranians had hoped would bring about a new order of freedom and well being -- the shock of what was really happening hit him full in the face. He says, "I felt a great sense of unease within me, an inner compulsion that drove me to the brink of insanity." It all came to a head in a dream, a nightmare, in which the recent history of Iran flashed through his head and he saw all the characters that end up in this novel.I didn't like reading this. It was horrible in many ways, truly a nightmare. (The atmosphere in the novel, not the writing.)I came to it thinking it would be something along the lines of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis or Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. It's not. It's more like something Kafka would have written. There was a lot I didn't understand, but Mahmoud Dowlatabadi's writing made me want to honor his effort by finishing it. This section felt like the cry at the heart of the novel: "So why do I imagine that people might improve? Everything going on around us seems to indicate that the values our forebears passed down to us no long apply. Instead, we have sown the seeds of mistrust, skepticism, and resignation, which will grow into a jungle of nihilism and cynicism, a jungle in which you will never find the courage to even mention the names of goodness, truth and common humanity, a crop that is now bearing fruit with remarkable speed ... Nobody dares to speak the truth any more. Oh my poor children ... we're burying you, but you should realize that we are also digging a grave for our future. Can you hear me?"

  • Amir
    2019-05-18 03:16

    I like the style of story telling of this book and could connect with the characters in the story (specially Amir and the colonel). I believe one can find (many) fathers (mothers) in Iran who experienced the same sad story as the colonel in the few years after Iran's revolution.The main characters of this story, the colonel, Amir and Khezr are well presented and I could understand the reasons behind their actions.Overall the translation is not bad but as the translator says at the end of the book: ``By the nature of the language, much has inevitably lost in translation''.I am from Iran and so I know the context in which the story was happening. For example, when the narrator says ``they followed them in the forest'' I know exactly what he talks about, or I know why they executed Parvaneh, etc. This book (this translation) is missing these historical and cultural information. The footnotes are too vague and sometimes in-accurate.Some of the phrases are translated incorrectly: The worst one is on Page 85 ``Zar ... zar ...khar ... zar-ra khar mike-she! - Golds, Golds, only an ass smokes golds!'' (Zar is a cheap low-quality cigarette brand. The sentence says only a stupid person smokes a Zar cigarette).

  • Harry Rutherford
    2019-05-19 23:23

    Gosh, this book is grim. It starts with the colonel being summoned from his house in the middle of a rainy night to collect the tortured body of his daughter from the secret police, and he is told to bury her before daybreak to avoid any kind of attention.The story of that night and the following day is combined with flashbacks, and we learn of one child after another lost to violence: being tortured by the Shah’s regime or the Islamic Republic, or dying in the Iran/Iraq War. Each of his children belongs to, and represents, a different political movement: different flavours of communism and Islamism. But they all fall foul of the government sooner or later, as the political tides change. Except, I guess, for the one who dies in the war, who is celebrated as a martyr — but is no less dead.I don’t know enough about the politics of Iran in the 70s and 80s, so the historically specific detail is lost on me, but it still works as a portrayal of a country suffering political turmoil and violent repression. Certainly an effective novel, if not an enjoyable one.

  • Matin Kheirkhahan
    2019-04-21 05:34

    I would give it a 4.5, because of the aesthetic flow and deduct 0.5 as I wish I had read it in Persian. The reason that I prefer the original Persian text is the delicacy of word choices. It was obvious that the words and names were beautifully selected such that they were in perfect harmony of the whole plot, and I believe many points are lost in the English translation.Other than the language, the story is telling a retired colonel's fate whose offspring are representing different popular (and later oppressed) political parties in the 80s. To my knowledge, this dark saddening story perfectly matches the actual history of Iran after 1979 revolution.A definitely must-read.

  • Kelly
    2019-04-27 03:21

    If I knew more about Iranian history, I am sure I would had a better understanding of this book. Even so, the darkness of this book was gripping. I loved the way that the book was presented, with no chapters and therefore no time for the reader to take a breath, much like the colonel was never able to rest. His ramblings and chaotic thoughts gave the reader insight into the chaos and confusion of his life and the overwhelming guilt that he felt for what happened to his children.

  • Alireza dehghan
    2019-05-02 04:20

    i STOPPED READING this english version of this book on page 280 . it is very poor translation and you realy miss the essense of what is beeing said by Dolat Abadie. So i stoped the reading and will wait for the original Farsi copy of this book from Dolatabadie.I dont recommend reading this engklish version of the story to any one. Just simply it is bad JOB.SO IDIDNT FINISH THIS BOOK I STOPED READING

  • Anatoly
    2019-05-03 03:21

    An interesting novel ,although at times it was hard to focus on what the author meant. There are no chapters which was a downside for me, especially because of the structure and narrative of the story. But overall it was a pleasant read.

  • Wellington City Libraries
    2019-05-08 00:32

    Good - veryGreat to get novels on other countries and esp such topical as Iran.