I’ve been reading an anthology, We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs, edited by Nasrim Alavi and published by Soft Skull. This is a collection of excerpts from numerous Iranian bloggers, all of it translated from Farsi. Farsi blogs are a vast world, Alavi explains in an informative introduction. For reasons not entirely known, there are more blogs in this language than in Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese and Russian.
Alavi’s book is a wide overview of a semi-underground society at various variances with their government and their religious traditions. Some of the excerpts show charming slices of everyday life:
z8unak: I came across a cockroach in the kitchen today (I don’t want any of you out there thinking we have cockroaches in our house, because we don’t — it must have got in through a window or something), but out of the total kindness of my heart I ignored it and let it escape.
I’m glad Mum wasn’t in the kitchen to see this as she would have said “What? Have you fallen in love again?!!” Mum thinks the only people on earth who don’t kill cockroaches … are those who have fallen in love!
Others take political positions, and support other bloggers in trouble with the law (note: if you click on this website link, the Farsi page plays an audio file, so turn down your speakers if you’re at work):
ranginkamaan: We are painfully aware of the manifestations of this totalitarian system … its absolute need to influence every aspect of the life of its individual subjects, and to produce people of uniform thoughts, while opposing free thought and democracy …
Blogger Sina Motallebi was arrested and charged with jeopardizing national security! You have to pity a regime whose national security can be jeopardized by the writings of a blogger!
Don’t we know it, don’t we know it …
We are Iran: The Persian Blogs is a book worthy of your attention. It may represent a trend, too. From slightly elsewhere on the political spectrum, here’s another narrated anthology of blog selections, The Blog of War by Matthew Currier Burden, published by Simon and Schuster. This is an attractively assembled collection of blog posts from our current Iraqi troops, many of whom turn out to be deft writers. This book’s tone is very gung-ho and a bit too romantic about the military for my tastes (chapters are titled “Healers”, “Fallen”, etc.). But the pieces read well, and the raw anecdotes and the diversity of personality and opinion makes The Blog of War a valuable document of our time.
Bloggers … what are we going to do with us all? Sure, we’re sub-literate, but we can turn out a good book every once in a while. Here are two worth checking out.