The censorship by the “Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance” of Iran is crushing us. Today is the inauguration day of Obama, the first African American President of the United States of America. Exactly 40 years ago, in 1968, a man who had this dream was assasinated because he believed that this dream was possible. 45 years ago, before the Act of Civil rights was signed by Johnson, due to the efforts of Martin Luther King, the Africa-American’s did not have the right to vote.
Is there any hope for us?
I believe so. But is this hope strong enough to keep us struggling in a path that seems to be closed? I don’t know. What I know is that the current situation is destroying the Iranina publishing industry NOW. Whatever hope there is for a reform, we should cross our fingers that the change doesn’t come too late, when we would have to rebuild everything from scratch.
Right now, in Caravan Books, we have 25 titles in the process of being read by the censor officers; the average time since they have been submitted: 18 months. Only this year, 10 other of our new titles were censored completely and labled as: “They don’t deserve to be published”. We have been able to publish only 17 new books, about 40% of what we published 4 years ago. The ministry of culture has also started to cancell the previous permissions granted already, blocking our way to reprint the books.
In june this year, the ministry of culture even cancelled our licence to publish our cultural and Literary quarterly, Book Fiesta, which we had been publishing for 5 years. The reason, “Lilith”, a short story by Primo Levi that we had published in our last issue. We are not even allowed to appeal.
The main concern of the government regarding the book industry, seems to be translated fiction.
I really hope that the situation changes soon, not in 40 years.