Monthly Archives: May 2007

Sadriddin Aini and The Sands of Oxus

Sadriddin Aini

It could be said that prior to Sadriddin Aini (1878-1954), the history of Tajik literature and the rich history of Persian literature, encompassing famous poets such as Firdawsi, Rumi, and Omar Khayyam, were one and the same. Mutually intelligible regional dialects of Persian existed alongside various minority languages throughout much of present-day Tajikistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of Uzbekistan. But dramatic developments were about to give birth to a distinctive modern Tajik literature, of which Aini, a Tajik from a village in present-day Uzbekistan, is considered the father (Perry and Lehr 3). Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Crescent and The Language of Baklava

How are prayer, poetry, and food preparation related? Sufism, Arabic literature, and the culinary arts all contribute to the backdrop of Diana Abu-Jaber’s multifaceted second novel. As I was drawn into Abu-Jaber’s masterfully crafted world, I found myself increasingly aware of the art in the everyday circumstances of life. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Persepolis Film

We recently learned from PowellsBooks.Blog that Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis has been made into a feature-length animated French film. An English version is purported to be on the way. Variety has a review here: Variety review of Persepolis film

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Southern Oregon Retreat

We recently retreated for a quick overnight getaway to Southern Oregon, where we stayed in a delightful B&B. The house is straw bale construction, built by artists Dennis Meiners and Leslie Lee. The ambience is refreshing, the hospitality warm, and Penny the resident canine affectionate. We enjoyed discussing alternative construction, books, linguistics, and international travel. Dennis and Leslie gave us a tour of their adobe studio, where they make their ceramics, and told us about their experiences with alternative construction. They also have a nice selection of books for browsing. We started reading The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason, and are looking forward to continuing it as soon as we can obtain a copy.

The Hummingbird is conveniently located for fans of the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland or visitors to the historic mining town of Jacksonville. We particularly recommend it for those interested in ceramics, art and/or alternative construction. Dennis and Leslie also offer classes and the opportunity to work in their studio. Learn more here: Hummingbird Bed and Breakfast

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Khaled Hosseini’s New Release

Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns went on sale yesterday (May 22). His Kite Runner was a bestseller and one of our all-time favorites (see our review, posted May 7, ’07.) We can’t wait to read his new novel, this time about women in Afghanistan.

Visit Hosseini’s site to learn more about the author and his books: Khaled Hosseini

Read an excerpt and listen to an NPR interview here: NPR interview with Khaled Hosseini

Buy a signed copy from Powell’s bookstore here: A Thousand Splendid Suns

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Since I’ve been reading so much on birth and parenting in the past six months, I thought I would share some of my findings. Ina May Gaskin is one of the “greats” of contemporary North American midwifery, and her Spiritual Midwifery has become a classic.

As the title suggests, the primary concern of her Guide is the culmination of pregnancy, but the sections about nutrition, choosing a practitioner, and ultrasound and other prenatal tests make it valuable reading in early pregnancy, as well. A practitioner’s approach–midwifery or “techno-medical”–will affect a woman’s prenatal care, as well as her birth. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Soul—Russian Writer on Central Asia

Rather than a novel about Central Asia, Soul seems, in reality, to be a mythic novel that happens to be set in Central Asia. Author Andrey Platonov (1899-1951) traveled to Turkmenistan in the 1930s; he was taken with the region and later set the action of this book there. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Iran and America

This post isn’t about a book, but it does include some articles. Brian’s recent post on our Birds’ Words blog concerns ties between Portland, OR, (where we used to live) and Iran. At the bottom are links to two articles I wrote following our 2003 trip to Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz. Click here to view Brian’s post: Iranian-American friendship

I should note that an Iranian friend I met with today reported that in the past few months the political climate has become much less tolerant than the situation I describe in “Americans in Persia.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Translation Posts

Words without Borders has two new posts relating to news in the world of translation:

Click here for: 2007 Pen Translation Fund Awards

Click here for: Comments on 2007 Independent Foreign Fiction Awards

The site also has a number of forums on translation. The discussions took place some time ago, but they are still worthwhile, being intiated by notable writers and theorists such as Lawrence Venuti, and discussing topics such as “Translation as Americanization.” Click here: WWB Translation discussions

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Everyday Islam–Soviet Anthropologist on Central Asia

Our principal reading material is fiction, with some creative (or occasionally uncreative) nonfiction thrown in to keep us feeling responsible and informed. Everday Islam is more of a reference book than “literature,” but we read it (individually) because it concerns one of our other significant interests–Central Asia, and more specifically, Tajikistan.

Everyday Islam is of interest in part because it represents the very Soviet views of a Communist Party member writing just after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Most books that get translated into English seem to reinforce our own perspective; it is from the dissidents of, for example, China, the former USSR, or Iran that we hear most often in the English-speaking world. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized