Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hooman Majd

Born in Tehran but educated in the West, Hooman Majd is the author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ (an Economist and Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2008) and The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge.

A week or so ago I asked him hat he was reading. His reply:
I’m reading Harold Schechter’s Killer Colt: Murder, Disgrace, and the Making of an American Legend, a couple of weeks before it’s released. It’s the story of the Colt brothers, one the famous firearm manufacturer, the other a cold-blooded murderer (something I didn’t know). I love true crime books, and Schechter is a master of the genre—his books read like novels but every detail is meticulously researched and true. As a New Yorker, I’m always fascinated with Gilded Age New York—for it’s a city that is still recognizable in so many places—and apart from providing me with a history lesson about my city, this book also satisfies my enduring curiosity about the evil that seems to be a part of the human condition.

I’m also reading the anthology Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, edited by renowned scholar and author Reza Aslan, also in advance of its release. It’s a compendium of stories and excerpts of novels by Middle Eastern writers, but not ones most Americans would instantly recognize. It covers Arab, Persian, Turkish and even Urdu literature, and it is stunning in its breadth and in the talent that is on display. I’m always dismayed that the literature of the Islamic world is either unavailable in translation to Western readers or garners little attention here, but at a time when we read of Koran burnings, Islamophobia, and crisis after crisis in the Middle East in our newspapers, how appropriate it is to hear the voices of the people we actually know so little about.
Read more about The Ayatollahs' Democracy, and visit Hooman Majd's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Ayatollah Begs to Differ.

--Marshal Zeringue