Sep 28, 2019, 3:13 PM
Journalist ID: 2078
News Code: 83494182
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Iraq-Iran war literature: Great pool of Sacred Defense stories

Tehran, September 28, IRNA - September 22, 1980, marks a dark day in Iran’s recent history after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. A day when Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein attacked a country that was going through a political transition. Iran calls the eight-year imposed war Sacred Defense and is commemorating its martyrs, wounded and consequences of those tough years. War literature is part of the global literary movements and Iran is now delving into it to spread to the world what happened those days. 

War histories are the part of parcel of every nation on the planet as war has been and continues to be a recurring event from time immemorial. 

Iraq’s eight-year imposed war on Iran provides a great opportunity to tell the world about the Iranian nation suffering at a time when the country had changed its political establishment and was having high hopes of building a better future with its Islamic Revolution. 

However, eight months after the Revolution succeeded, Iraq’s Baathi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Iran just to face unprecedented resilience from braveheart Iranians. With thousands of deaths, injuries and millions of displaced, the war ended without particular result for Iraq. 

39 years after the attack, it’s time to relate the stories behind those dark days. Iranian literature is full of books that remind us of the suffering, resistance and other dignities of the nation, a movement endorsed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, who emphasizes much on this literary genre. 

One Woman's War: Da (Mother) is one of the pioneers. The book is a memoir by Seyyedeh Zahra Hosseini detailing her experiences during the Iraq–Iran War as recorded by Seyedeh Azam Hosseini (no relation). The memoir was recorded through thousands of hours of conversation between Zahra Hosseini and Azam Hosseini, while parts of the book are autobiography by the narrator. The title, Da, means "mother" in Kurdish and Luri and was meant to memorialize the role of Iranian mothers during the Sacred Defense.

The book won the 2009 Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award in the "Documentation and historiography" category, Iran's most lucrative literary award. It has undergone more than 140 reprints in three years and became the biggest bestseller in the shortest period as the publishers say.

The book was first published in Persian by Sureye Mehr Publication Company in 2008 and was a bestseller at the Tehran 23rd International Book Fair and "the biggest seller in the shortest period in Iranian publishing history" which has had more than 140 reprints in three years, according to the publishers.

One Woman's War: Da (Mother) focuses on Zahra Hosseini's life in Basra and Khorramshahr during the Battle of Khorramshahr. The book consists of three parts with the years of the city under siege making the core part of this memoir. 

The first part details Hosseini's childhood in Iraq, her family's migration to Iran due to pressure from the Ba'ath regime, and her first years in Iran. The second part details Hosseini's activities in nursing injured fighters, helping in the delivery of supplies to the front line, preparing the corpses of fighters for burial, and participating in firefights. The final part details Hosseini's recovery from a shrapnel injury and her married life.

In 2014, the book was translated from Persian into English by Paul Sprachman, a professor at Rutgers University, and was published by Mazda Publishers. Hosseini's memoir is being translated into Urdu and Turkish. A Spanish translation was announced in October 2014. 

The book was unveiled at Iran's mission at the United Nations in New York City. The translator, Paul Sprachman, admired the book and said: "I got a deeper understanding of the book, after the conversation I had with Seyyedeh Zahra Hossein, the narrator of Da. I discovered the difference between the Iran-Iraq war and other wars after I read Da. It was, as Iranians say, a sacred defense and full of spirituality."

A review of the book was published on the website of Iran English Radio in April 2009. The book was also the subject of an in-depth analysis by Laetitia Nanquette, published in Iranian Studies in 2013. A research paper on the book was published in 2013 in the Sociological Journal of Art and Literature.

“To be honest, the book is very good and can be talked about in the world. It only portrays a small part of the war, showing that Iran’s Sacred Defense has the potential for thousands of other books to convey Islamic and Revolutionary values to the world,” Iran’s leader was cited as saying about the book. 

I also cried
The book, written by Abbas Mirzai, narrates the life of Ebrahim Saadatfar, one of the thousands of Iranians who were gassed by chemical bombs during the war. 

Ebrahim, who suffers 80% injuries caused during the conflict, narrates his childhood in the southern Kerman Province and then his struggle against the Pahlavi dynasty that led to the 1979 Revolution. 

During his five years of deployment to the front, Ebrahim was gassed by Saddam forces who weren’t afraid of using non-conventional chemical bombs and gases to move forward their interests. 

The Iranian man was then transferred to Austria and Germany for treatment. The book narrates his endeavor for receiving treatment of the effects of the chemical gases that were given to Saddam by the  European countries, like Germany. 

The leg that was leftover
Seyyed Naser Hosseini Pour, of only 14 years, heads to the war fronts and is captured by Iraqi forces two years later. At 16 he undergoes harsh and cruel treatments at Saddam’s horrifying jails where he is tortured. 

The Iranian leader has praised the book, saying it’s the first that relates the stories of Iranian men captured and tortured by Iraqi forces.     

Daughter of Sheena
The book consists of Ghadam Kheyr Mohammadi's memoirs during the Iraq–Iran War as recorded by Behnaz Zarabi Zadeh.

The memoir was recorded through hundreds of hours of conversation between Ghadam Kheyr Mohammadi and Behnaz Zarabi Zadeh. The book touches on the role of Iranian women in the Iran–Iraq War.

Daughter of Sheena was published in Persian by Sureye Mehr Publication Company in 2013. Also, the book was translated into English and Arabic. It became the bestselling book in Iran and has been reprinted many times in Iran. Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei read the book and appreciated the writer.

Ghadam Kheyr Mohammadi was born in 1963 and married with Satar Ebrahimi in 1977. In 1986 when she was 24 years old, her husband was killed in the war. She died in 2010.

Daughter of Sheena is a novel about the Iraq–Iran War and focuses on the experiences of Ghadam Kheyr Mohammadi's husband, Satar Ebrahimi. He was born on 1956 in Razan county. Satar was a commander who took part in many operations in the war. The book tells Ghadam Kheyr’s story in nineteen chapters.

The book received an award in the 16th Sacred Defense Book of The Year award in Iran in 2015. 

A City under Siege: Tales of the Iran-Iraq War
The book is a collection of nine stories from the Iraq–Iran War by Habib Ahmadzadeh, an Iranian author. 

The book won awards in Iran and was called one of the top twenty books about the Iraq–Iran War.

It was originally published in 2000 by Sureye Mehr Publication in Persian. Paul Sprachman, professor of Rutgers University translated the book from Persian into English and Mazda Publishers published it in 2010.

Ahmadzadeh was born in Abadan in 1964. He is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, whose military career began when he served as a teenage Basiji and ended after he attained the rank of Captain in the regular army. He has studied theater and is an accomplished scenarist. 

Ahmadzadeh contributed to writing scripts, including The Glass Agency, An Umbrella for the Director, and The Rig, among others. His first work was Chess with the Doomsday Machine.

"Ahmadzadeh tries to make a connection with the reader in A City Under Siege. Most stories are told in the first person. A City Under Siege is a solid collection of wartime stories. Ahmadzadeh relies heavily on certain tricks and has a few authorial tics, but he's a talented writer and these are effective good stories. This collection is certainly a good introduction to frontline Iranian life during this conflict (with which most Western readers will presumably not yet be very familiar," wrote Austrian author M.A. Orthofer in the literary website Complete Overview in 2014. 

The nine stories in the collection, which was compiled between 1988 and 2010, are about various aspects of the Iran-Iraq War and its aftermath.

“A young sniper contemplates the death of his Iraqi prey; a childish fixation on a toy airplane wends its way to the massacre at Halabcheh; a dilettante director makes his first film at the front; a teenage paramilitary ages while escorting Iraqi prisoners behind Iranian lines; war interrupts, reignites, and redirects a peace-time passion; a mother of martyrs regrets her own motherhood. Always full of twists and turns, Habib Ahmadzadeh’s tales provide original views of the War and its aftermath,” according to a review of the book on Mazda Publishers’ website. 

The book was reviewed in the Middle East Studies Association of North America's Review of Middle East Studies by Hamid Eshani.

Habib Ahmadzadeh received the third prize of the Writing Forge Short Story Competition for his "Letter to the Sa'ad Family", published in A City Under Siege.

The Night’s Bus is also a cinematic adoption of one of the book’s stories. 


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