segunda-feira, 11 de junho de 2012

Interview with Mahbod Seraji

[Pode ler esta entrevista em português aqui]

Writing takes a serious commitment, it requires serious dedication to your craft, plus mental readiness and quite a bit of emotional investment

It is not natural to the author common to leave his contact e-mail on the books and appeal to readers to contact - it means that he have all the pleasure in hearing them. The Iranian Mahbod Seraji is one of these writers and as he confesses in the afterword to his book debut Rooftops of Tehran (Editorial Presença, 2011), he have read hundreds of books and often wished he could exchange their ideas and feelings directly to the authors. So, it is not surprising that openness and interaction.
When writing Rooftops of Tehran the author wanted to present the other side of Iran to the readers and demystify the cultural stereotypes and politicians that this country of the Middle East (ancient Persia) is still "victim." The books can also be written to change mentalities, and Rooftops of Tehran is a good example to be implemented.
It took three years to write his first book - but since his 10 years he had the ambition - and already has another book ready to be published, tells.
Mahbod Seraji is civil engineer and is currently a management consultant for several companies
- Chinese, Indian and Latin American - and is often invited to teach executive development programs around the world. He lives in San Francisco, California, USA.

Text: Miguel Pestana
Photo: Mahbod Seraji

You published your first book in 2009, with 53 years old, but already at age ten you decided that you would be a writer. Why you wait so long?
I always wanted to write but my life circumstances would not allow it. I was too busy with work, dealing with family issues, raising my son… Writing takes a serious commitment, it requires serious dedication to your craft, plus mental readiness and quite a bit of emotional investment. I don’t think I was ready in those earlier years.

What was the most difficult part of writing Rooftops of Tehran, and why? 
The ending. I had several different endings in mind, but a couple of them were seriously depressing and hopeless. My friends who read the early drafts of the story seriously discouraged me from writing a doom and gloom ending, especially given the politics of Iran in the current political environment. The current ending was to symbolize hope and a brighter future – that’s why the book ends with a reference to stars.
After I read the book, I researched your biography. I can almost affirm that Rooftops of Tehran is semi-autobiographical. I’m wrong?
The book is semi autobiographical, but it’s also heavily fictionalized. For example, I changed dates to accommodate the narrative, the timing of the events, the locations, etc. It’s important for readers to know that this is not an autobiography. This is, as far as I’m concerned, a work of fiction that has borrowed elements from my real life in order to feel more credible as a story. All fictions are “Graceful Lies”,we would love to believe in.

This book has been extremely successful and well received many praises from
San Francisco Chronicle, Publishers Weekly and others newspapers and magazines. Do you expect this good acceptance by the critic?
I did not, but I’m thrilled about it. I never thought the book would get translated into so many languages, or I would get emails from around the world from readers of the book. I’m pleasantly surprised. Hope my next book gets the same kind of positive attention.

When you finished the novel , did you think the book could be translated – at the time of this interview - into eleven languages?
No, as I said above I didn’t. By the way, I think it’s 15 languages now. I read somewhere that 97% of novels sell less than 5,000 copies. So I was shocked and thrilled when my book sold just as many in a short time. Writing your debut novel is like trying to jump over a wide ditch. You go back as far as you can to give yourself running room, you run as fast as you can, then you take the leap and pray to make it to the other side. It’s exciting but it’s also nerve wracking.

The book Persepolis, a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, depict her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. Is important to Iranian people, give their testimony from how they lived that problematic moment?
I loved Persepolis. I’m a big fan of hers. I think everyone has a different motive for writing. I can’t say what her motive was. Mine was to remind people how things were under the Shah. We went from bad to worse with our revolution, and I wanted to remind people of that, especially those who glorify the Shah’s reign in Iran. 

What are your literary references?
Not sure what this means!!!

Have you read any book by a Portuguese writer?
I’ve only read two books, both by Jose Saramago’s: Blindness and Seeing. I thought both were amazing books. Very powerful. I’m a big fan of his writing.

After this surprising literary debut, the readers can expect soon another novel?
Yes, my second book is finished. I hope it comes out next year. For now we’re calling it, The Garden, The Rose, and the Nightingale.

The autor's website:  

My review of Rooftops of Tehran.

Note: This interview was made by e-mail.

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