Iran writer reviews nation's struggle in 100 yrs

In her latest novel "Eskandar"


When Iranian opposition writer Zepa Shakib faced difficulties when she wanted to return back home to make a field visit to areas that were the scenes of her novel "Eskandar", she had no choice but to unleash her imagination to review the historical events and social developments in Iran over a hundred years.

Eskandar, the hero of the novel who lived in a remote village, began his first day in the novel by watching a group of blond foreigners from the window of his poor cottage. He later discovered that they were but a group of British oil workers. He joined them first as a worker and later became an activist against them for looting the wealth of his country.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, Shakib said that the discovery of oil led to an acceleration of events in Iran. "One hundred years ago, the historical events in our country were going slowly, but with the discovery of oil, the situation was different. The constitutional revolution, the formation of the parliament and the overthrow of the ruling Qajari and Pahlavi regimes, in addition to the coup against Mohammed Mossadeq, the local uprisings, the nationalization of oil and the February 1979 revolution all occurred during the past hundred years," she said.

Shakib added that the "hero of the novel had lived all those events and participated in the national struggle for achieving freedom and democracy in the country. His grandchildren followed his path as Iran is currently passing through very sensitive circumstances."

Shakib recalled the latest protests that followed the presidential election and said that the Iranians had made great progress. "At least the authorities are no longer able to restore the situation as it was before the election. The morning that followed the election was completely different than the previous day and formed an important turning point in the history of our country."

As a writer and filmmaker, I do my best to act as a bridge to link my nation to my audience and readers, like many other Iranian expatriates

Iranian writer Zepa Shakib


Shakib was not just a mere watcher of what was happening on the Iranian arena. She participates in organizing protests in her exile. She also takes part in seminars on the developments in Iran. She tries to act as a bridge to link her nation with the outside world, at a time when the Iranian authorities spread a kind of blackout on media, according to her.

"As a writer and filmmaker, I do my best to act as a bridge to link my nation to my audience and readers, like many other Iranian expatriates," she said.

Shakib believes that wide participation of women in the recent protests is mainly due to the "development of civil society" in Iran. Women's aspirations have become so different from the previous generations where women's everyday life was limited to their household activities.

The Iranian writer questioned the slogans called for by the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regarding freedom and the elimination of discrimination against women. She considered the appointment of the first female minister in the history of Iran as a "showing up" move on the part of Ahmadinejad.

She referred to the broad participation of women in the latest protests and said that "a large percentage of them are now in prison and some others were killed in the streets."

She concluded by saying that "women did not only accompany men in their struggle for freedom, but they have even over-passed them like what happened during the recent protests."

Shakib writes her novels in German. She wrote a famous novel called "Samir and Semra", which reviews the plight of women in Afghanistan under the rule of Taliban. The novel was translated to 28 languages. She has also produced several documentaries on Afghanistan and she received several awards in Germany and other countries for her devotion to humanitarian issues in her works.

(Translated from Arabic by Abeer Tayel)