About Moniru Ravanipur
Novelist and short story writer Moniro Ravanipur was born in Booshehr in 1952. She has had eight books published in Iran, and translations of some of her work have also appeared in the West. Her story, “Satan‘s Stones,” was selected for the groundbreaking anthology of Iranian literature, Strange Times, My Dear (Arcade, 2005). Among her novels in Farsi are The Drowned, Heart of Steel, and Gypsy by Fire. Ravanipur is a member of the Association of Iranian Writers and has been invited to give readings in Austria, France (Iranian Artists Festival), Germany (Berlin Conference and the Goethe Institute), Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. From January to June 2007, she was a visiting fellow in the International Writers Program at Brown University’s Watson Institute. Ravanipour’s work, considered nonconformist and honest in its portrayal of Iranians, has elicited government scrutiny in recent years. In late 2006, all copies of her current work were stripped from bookstore shelves in Iran in a countrywide police swoop. Prior to this episode, “Satan‘s Stones” had been banned. Two other novels are currently under review by Iran‘s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
She was named the 2007 International Writers Project Fellow at Brown. The IWP fellowship offers residency and a supportive environment to writers who experience censorship and persecution in their home countries. Ravanipour is currently in residence at the Watson Institute, as is 2006-07 IWP Fellow Shahryar Mandanipour, who is also from Iran.
Ravanipur also employs humor, as an acquired reflex against the pressures she says she and her compatriots face under a government that attempts to impose a stifling conformity – particularly on women.
She has had eight books published in Iran, with two more under review by her country’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Among her novels – some of them translated in the West – are The Drowned, Heart of Steel, and Gypsy by Fire.
Much of her work has been inspired by the culture and traditions specific to the seaside town in which she grew up on the southern coast of Iran. In her tales, superstitions about the coast’s tempestuous seas – and the townspeople’s interactions with mermaids, drowned fishermen, and other spirits living beneath the waves – meet with an advancing modernism. Three blond men arrive in a motorized boat, for instance, and are declared gods – when they are actually foreign oil company employees on an exploratory mission. Having lived more recently in Tehran, Ravanipur also writes about day-to-day existence in the capital and women’s struggles for a better life.
Her work is not political, Ravanipur says, but because it is nonconformist and honest in its portrayal of Iranians, it becomes viewed as political. This point was once again underscored in recent weeks, as all copies of her current work were stripped from bookstore shelves in Iran in a countrywide police swoop. Prior to this episode, “Satan’s Stones,” a short story published in English in Strange Times, had been banned in Iran, among other of her works.
Ravanipur has also faced trial in her home country, as one of 17 activists accused of taking part in anti-Iran propaganda while participating in the “Iran after the Elections” conference in Berlin in 2000.