Iran’s classic literature is very well-known in Russia, said a Russian participant in the 32nd Tehran International Book Fair (TIBF) currently underway in the Iranian capital.
Iran’s contemporary writers and novelists, such as Sadeq Hedayat and Jalal Al-e-Ahmad, are quite popular in Russia, added Alena Novokshonova, the project manager of Moscow International Book Fair (MIBF), speaking to Iran Daily on TIBF’s sidelines.
Opened on April 24, TIBF will end on May 4.
She said Russian people are fully familiar with poems by prominent Iranian poets such as Ferdowsi (940-1020), Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) and Hafez (1315-1390) and read them.
Commending TIBF’s high quality and level, Novokshonova noted that the exhibition is one of the world’s biggest book fairs which attracts a large number of visitors annually.
“The fact that so many people visit the expo is always pleasant to pavilion owners and publishers taking part in it.”
Shifting to Russia’s participation in TIBF’s 32nd edition, she said, this year, 300 book titles are on display in Russia’s pavilion including novels, stories, biographies of famous Russian figures and works pertaining to history and children’s literature.
Novokshonova noted that some of these books belong to Russia’s classic literature and some of them are works by the country’s contemporary authors, published in 2018 or 2019.
“By taking part in TIBF’s current edition, we aim to [further] present the Russian literature and culture [to Iranians] and showcase newly published Russian literary works. If Iranians show interest, we can prepare the ground for cooperation between the two countries’ publishers through the current exhibition.”
In return, she said, “we also welcome Iranian authors and publishers in MIBF,” adding they can present their works to Russians and publish Iranian books in Russia.
Novokshonova added, Sadra Publisher is currently translating works by Iranian authors and poets into Russian and publishing them in the country.
“It has so far published works such as Shekarestan and Ferdowsi’s long epic poem, Shahnameh, in Russian.”
She said contemporary Russian and Persian literary works are not as internationally well-known as those of the two countries’ classic literature, placing part of the blame on publishers.
“They refrain from taking the risk of publishing works by contemporary writers and are more focused on republishing books which have previously proven successful.
“Basically when you want to publish a new work, part of the costs involved would pertain to introducing the author and the book. It takes time for a work to gain popularity among audience. In addition, when publishing a new work, publishers are required to pay extra costs, such as authors' rights, which is obviously not the case with classic works.”
Thus, contemporary authors’ failure to be well-known or popular in other countries is not necessarily due to their weakness, she stressed.
However, Novokshonova said, a number of books by contemporary Russian authors, such as Guzel Yakhina’s ‘Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes’, have gained great international reputation.
“This novel won a number of awards such as the ‘Yasnaya Polyana Literary Award’ and the ‘Big Book Award’ in 2015.”
She noted that the author of the book attended TIBF three years ago.
“The book has been translated into many languages, including Persian, and is quite popular among Iranians.”