An Event Review By a Student

Iranian-born Author Visits Aarhus, by Miriam Yamil

2016.01.12

Literature Brings Life to the Children of the Revolution


It is September 11 2015 and from the audience hall in DOKK1, which is the newly build library and media house in Aarhus, the sound of Iranian pop-music from the 60s is heard. In the hall there is a table with Iranian treats: cookies, tea and coffee. Around 140 people have showed up and soon the audience is crowded with curious people. They have all come to hear Sahar Delijani, the Iranian-born writer, talk about her first novel from 2013: Children of the Jacaranda Tree. The Danish author and political writer Rune Engelbrecht has come to interview her. 

 

Sahar Delijani lives today in Italy and she has had great success with her first – and until now only novel: Children of the Jacaranda Tree. The book is mainly set in the Iranian capital Teheran. It is a story about the children who grew up during and after the Iranian revolution in 1979. Their parents fought during the revolution, but lost to the new regime, and they were prisoned as a result to their activism against the newly founded government. In the novel, the fates of different characters are intertwined and it becomes a mosaic of portraits, which individually and together tells the story about war. A war that only few of us can relate to, but all together is told through the people who did experience it.

Sahar Delijani writes about the children of the revolution, which is no coincidence because she herself was one of them. Delijani was born when her mother was still in prison. Because of her mother’s confinement Delijani was given to her grandparents right after she was born. Delijani herself says that the book is based on experiences from her own life and history, but it is no biography. The novel is a portrait of all those ‘ordinary’ people like her own parents, who lived an ‘ordinary’ life with husband, wife and children, but still found the strength and courage to fight the religious regime.

 

Hope sparks from Delijani

In Children of the Jacaranda Tree, there is a story about a woman like Delijanis mother, who gives birth to her child while still in prison. There is a story about a woman whose husband is executed, and the stories about all the children who are separated from their parents and families. Still the book is filled with hope, and so is Delijani herself. The smiling authoress fills the audience with horrifying stories about war and destruction, but also with an endless hope for the future. She holds a belief in the ‘ordinary’ people who would risk their lives for the country to be a better place for their children. When Engelbrecht asks Delijani if the suppression and injustice of the people of Iran has not given rise to hate, she simply answers no. Delijani explains that hate is too strong and destructive a feeling. When the activists fight the regime, it is not a personal battle of hate, but about something concerning every human being. Every time a person is told that he cannot say or write something because it is against the regime this is not only a violation against the specific person but rather it violates everyone’s right to freedom. This exactly is the beauty of Delijanis novel. It is the shared story about the pain of a bleeding country. When one is denied his basic human rights, it wounds the community in general.

 

I am delighted that the group Authors in Aarhus has been able to bring this exciting Iranian author to Denmark. Sahar Delijani has with the magic power of literature, opened a little door to a world and reality, which otherwise would have been out of our reach.     

Miriam Yamil

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