Reading Persian in Jerusalem

As Israel and Iran trade threats, first Iranian novels appear in Hebrew

When the Hebrew manuscript of the Persian novel My Uncle Napoleon crossed Jonathan Nadav’s desk at Xargol Books, the small but highly regarded Israeli publishing house, the editor was skeptical.

His doubts lay not with the modern Iranian classic, or the translation by then unknown translator Orly Noy – Iraj Pezeshkzad’s 1973 novel is a captivating satire of Iran under the Shah, and Noy is, in Nadav’s words, “simply a gifted translator.”

The editor worried about readers’ reactions. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatens a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities and paints the Islamic Republic as a second Nazi Germany, “all most Israelis know about Iranians is that they have mustaches and nuclear bombs,” Ms. Noy later said.

Read the whole story from 2013 in the Christian Science Monitor.