3 must-see books from Persia

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3 books that will never, ever give justice to the extraordinary cultural heritage of Persia, but that can provide the basis for understanding it better

Small but necessary premise

This is not a ranking but a suggestion for those approaching these countries and areas of the world for the first time and is also linked to the personal taste of the author. Putting only 3 works (thus risking to leave out entire countries) was a very specific choice due to something that is often forgotten: books are not free. Our intent is to provide beginners and experts with 3 truly “indispensable” titles, which can thus allow them to enjoy a good text and / or discover something new, allowing them to only make “good” shopping.

A further clarification: the literature of the Persian world is among the most ancient and rich that the history of humanity has ever seen; for this aspect alone it is unthinkable to be able to synthesize an entire cultural world. Also, the intent has always been to bring you something I’ve already read, so you can be 100% sure of my words; it is for this reason that works such as the “Shahnameh” or the texts of Rumi and Sana’i are missing, which in any case will be told on the site once started and finished. Do you have different “must-sees”? We are very curious to know them, in the future we will start direct 30 minutes / 1 hour starting from these lists; stay connected to receive news. We leave you to the list, good reads.

“Marx et la poupée” by Maryam Madjidi

Iran, late 1970s. Maryam’s parents are young, communists and in love with their country. But Iran is sinking towards one of the most obscurantist regimes of the modern era, and the family is forced to flee. When, at the age of six, Maryam reaches her father in exile in France, to welcome her is first of all a new language, which she immediately rejects, and then instead chooses it as the only possible lifesaver, to the point of rejecting any reference to origins: “I I am not a tree, I have no roots ”. Only years later, when the words begin to fail for her tired parents, Maryam finds the strength to turn back, recovering the language as the only tool to regain memory.

Maryam Madjidi

A novel of rare poetry that will allow us to fully insert ourselves in the author’s mind by capturing her thoughts, feelings and, above all, a lot of nostalgia. Among the memories of Omar Khayyam and his childhood, the text is a wonderful fresco of the experiences lived by the many Iranians who fled abroad, madly in love with their homeland and their culture, and at the same time rejected by her. A sweet, but not honeyed book, able to gracefully immerse you in Persian culture.

“Speech of the Birds” by Farid ad Din Attar

“One day all the birds of the earth came to parliament, the known and the unknown. “There is no place in the world,” they said, “that does not have a king: why does a sovereign not reign over our country? If we unite in fraternal partnership, we will be able to start looking for kings, being clear that order and harmony do not reign among subjects without a sovereign. ” It was then that the hoopoe, excited and anxious, jumped to the center of the restless assembly. On his breast he wore the robe of those who know the way, on his head the crown of truth. Along the way she had sharpened her mind, she had learned of good and evil. “Bird friends”, he began “in truth I am the courier of divine majesty, the messenger of the invisible …” “


Masterpiece. This word could be enough to tell one of the deepest and most wonderful texts of all human thought, especially within the Sufi world. Suffice it to say that the author, Farid ad-Din Attar, was considered by Rumi as one of his greatest masters, so much so that the influences of the first are evident in the works of the second. In “Speech of Birds”, in particular, we will witness a real spiritual journey, which will bring the reader and the birds to the presence of the Simurgh/ God, discovering something amazing. The work, it must be said clearly, is not very easy to read, but the efforts are rewarded by the illumination achieved once the path is completed.

“The Wonders of Creation” by Zakariyya ibn Muhammad Al Qazwini

“No atom moves in the heavens or on the Earth without one, two, ten, a thousand divine wisdoms in its movement.” These words reveal the profound meaning of a work like “The wonders of creation and the strangeness of beings” by Zakariyya ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (1202-1283), the greatest encyclopedist and cosmographer of the Islamic Middle Ages. The entire universe, from the celestial spheres to the tiniest animals, obeys the design of an artificer who made it with supreme wisdom and beauty, arousing in those who can observe it a continuous wonder.

books ramadan

Surely the most particular choice of the 3, also because it is the only one to have been written first in Arabic and then translated into the author’s native language. I could have put “Eskandar-Nâmeh” by Nizami or “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi, but I think this is easier than the first and more particular than the second. Qazwini’s work is in fact an encyclopedia of creation, an incredibly precious text for those who want to fully identify with these areas. Thanks to this book, you will be able to fully orient yourself among stars, angels, months, weeks and geography, discovering an incredible amount of curiosities that escape novels. A text that is more than ever able to surprise and show you new facets of the Persian-Islamic world.

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