2 January 2010

Sadeq Hedayat, The Blind Owl, 1937

Hedayat’s writing has been banned in Iran since November 2006 so The Blind Owl, his most famous book, is the obvious first port of call. It begins with a mysterious woman’s murder by a rather deranged man in the ancient Persian city of Rey, then follows his own dreamlike self-portrait as a man who has lost his grip on life. The book is either a veiled, opium-drenched, mysogynist rant with similarly high levels of angst and self-loathing or, as is widely believed, a Kafkaesque masterpiece. I expect the truth falls somewhere in between but I won’t default towards the latter opinion, as it’s still a very hard book to figure out without learning a little more about Hedayat, who commited suicide not long after writing The Blind Owl. A deliberately uncomfortable read that also defies proper categorisation, it’s out there on the margins of European-influenced literature but only of any real value to existentialism: if you also read Kafka you'll get much more out of it.  PY


No comments: