Cover image for Savushun
Dānishvar, Sīmīn, 1921-2012.
Uniform Title:
Saveusheun. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Mage Publishers, 1990.
General Note:
Translation of: Saveusheun.
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'A very engaging saga...'Washington Post Book World?A powerfully resonant work...'Publishers Weekly?Outstanding foreign fiction...'USA TodaySavushun (pronounced ?sa-voo-shoon?) is a folk tradition, surviving in Southern Iran from an undateable pre-islamic past, that conjures hope in spite of everything.The novel chronicles the life of a Persian family during the World War II Allied occupation of Iran. It is set in Shiraz, a town which evokes images of Persepolis and pre-islamic monuments, the great Persian poets, the shrines, sufis and nomadic tribes all within a historical web of the interests, privilege and influence of foreign powers, corruption, incompetence and arrogance of persons in authority. The story is seen through the eyes of Zari, a young wife, and mother, who copes with her idealistic husband while struggling with her desire for traditional family life and her need for an individual identity.simin daneshvar lives and continues to write in Iran.

Author Notes

Simin Danishvar is one of the most distinguished and popular women writers in Persian. Danishvar was born in 1921 in Shiraz, in the south of Iran, into a middle-class educated family. In 1942 she entered the University of Tehran but left briefly for a career in journalism.

Although she was on the faculty of the University of Tehran for many years, she was never granted tenure because of her opinions and activism. While she has always maintained a nonpolitical stance, never joining a political party, she has been outspoken. She was a founder of the Writers' Association, which was formed as an alternative to the state-sponsored association and which fought long and hard against the intellectual and artistic censorship of the Shah's era. One of her cofounders was the leading writer Jalal Al-i Ahmad, whom she married in 1952.

Her first work, a collection of short stories, was published in 1948, the first such collection ever published by a woman. Her novel Savushun (A Persian Requiem), first published in 1969, continues to be the single best-selling book in Iran, and some literary historians view it as the highest peak of novel writing in Persian.

Although Danishvar is strongly identified with women's concerns and experiences, she shows concern for a broader spectrum of the Iranian people as well.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The original edition of Daneshvar's archetypal Persian novel about the devastating effects of British occupation on southern Iran during WW II has sold more than 500,000 copies since it was first published in 1969. External events--so critical to the narrative's development--are related largely secondhand; told from the perspective of Zari, the wife of an upper-class landowner, the novel examines her highly proscribed role. Zari is a complex figure, unafraid to question her society's mores. When her husband, Yusof, refuses to sell his harvest to the British against the advice of his brother, a collaborator, he sets in motion a chain of events that leads to the novel's explosive and tragic end. Yusof, intrigued by the communist philosophy of the Soviets then occupying northern Iran, agrees to help rebel tribal chieftains and supplies them with food and advice. Against a backdrop of intrigue and infighting, Daneshvar describes Yusof's essential decency and Zari's quiet heroism; Persian folklore and myth are expertly woven into a modern setting in this powerfully resonant work. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Daneshvar, one of the top fiction writers in Iran, published this elegant tribute the same year that her famous husband, author Jalal Al-e Ahamd, passed away prematurely. Centered around a heroic husband-father and his family in Allied-occupied Shiraz during World War II, the novel has been popular with Iranians for more than 20 years. Now this first English translation provides the American reader with a unique insight into Persian culture and the historical interplay with the West that eventually led to the Islamic revolution. The novel displays the characteristic hopelessness of Iranians as well as the predominant themes of oppression, bravery, martyrdom, and Messianism found in ancient Iranian and Shiite symbolisms--among them, the image of pre-Islamic hero Siyavash from which the title was borrowed. Recommended for most general literature collections.-- Paula I. Nielson, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Cal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Joining the numerous Iranian novels that are now available in English translation and that deserve places on shelves in public and university libraries is this 1969 novel by Simin Daneshvar (b. 1921), Iran's most famous woman writer of fiction, a sampling of whose short stories and views on literature makes up Daneshvar's Playhouse (CH, Jul'90). Savushun is important for many reasons. It is the best-selling Persian novel ever in Iran. It was the first published Iranian novel by a woman writer. It is one of only a dozen or fewer serious, interpretive Iranian fictions to date that feature a female protagonist delineated from a feminine perspective. Its protagonist embodies traits, self-questioning, and quandaries found in many educated Iranian women, meaning that Savushun can serve as an important window into a room in Iranian culture not often visited or accurately described. -M. C. Hillmann, University of Texas at Austin