Mahmud Dowlatabadi

Born in the Khurasan village of Dowlatabad (near Sabzavar), short-story writer and novelist Mahmud Dowlatabadi was the most prominent Iranian novelist of the 1980s. Self-educated and forced to work from childhood, Dowlatabadi spent part of his younger adult years as a stage actor in Tehran.

His first collection of stories was called Layeh'ha-ye biyabani (Desert strata) and appeared in 1969. A second collection called Do dastan (Two stories) appeared in 1970. Then came a series of novels: Safar (The trip, 1969, revised 1974), Owsaneh-ye Baba Sobhan (The legend of Baba Sobhan, 1970), Gavareh-ban (Cowherd, 1972), Ba Shobayru (With Shobayru, 1973), Hejrat-e Solayman (Solomon's emigration, 1974), 'Aqil, 'Aqil (Aqil, Aqil, 1974), Mard (Man, 1974), Didar-e Baluch (Visit to the Baluch, 1978), and Az kham-e chanbar (Through the hoop, 1978) are his chief writings before the Revolution.

Dowlatabadi's 1979 novel Ja-ye khali-ye Soluch (Soluch's empty place) treated the decline of Iranian village life in the 1960s. His magnum opus is the monumental 3,000-page saga called Klidar (197883), which narrates the lives of Kurdish tribespeople and peasants in a poverty-stricken village in Khurasan in the mid-1940s.

Dowlatabadi lives with his family in Tehran. He traveled to Europe in 1990 and visited the United States in 1991, lecturing on literature and politics. A portion of his novel Ruzgar-e separi shodeh-ye mardom-e salkhordeh (The bygone days of old folks) was published in mid-1991 under the title Eqlim-e bad (Realm of the wind). A volume recording a series of interviews Dowlatabadi gave to a group of writers and editors, Ma niz mardomi hastim (We are also a people, 1990), gives a clear picture of his views on writing, as one of the first Iranian writers of interpretive fiction to support himself exclusively or primarily by writing. The publication of a three-volume collection of stories called Karnameh-ye seh panj (The record of this transient world) was announced in 1990.


Stories from Iran