‘Tehran Book Fair Uncensored’ Is Now Underway in Its Fifth Edition: Online

In News by Porter Anderson

The Tehran Book Fair Uncensored program is online this week, with as many as a dozen independent publishers of Persian literature working outside of Iran.

At the 2019 Tehran Book Fair Uncensored on a stop in Paris. Image: TBFU, VOA

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Statement of Goals: ‘Any Book Without Barriers’
The London-based founder of Nogaam Publishing, Azadeh Parsapour, has messaged the news media today (December 8) that the fifth edition of the Tehran Book Fair Uncensored from the International Alliance of Independent Publishers is running through Sunday (December 13).

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, this is the program that focuses on international publication of Persian books, many of which could not pass censors’ scrutiny in Iran and—per the event’s original rationale—would not thus be exhibited at the Tehran International Book Fair.

Under normal circumstances outside of a coronavirus pandemic, this event is held in the spring and moves from one city and country to the next, hosted by a network of independent publishers of literature-in-exile, if you will.

The Tehran Book Fair Uncensored was founded in 2016 by Iran’s Parsapour. She’s the winner of the Association of American Publisher’s 2018 Freedom to Publish award for her work in producing the writings of banned, blacklisted, or exiled Iranian authors. Parsapour also has been shortlisted three times for the International Publishers Association’s Prix Voltaire shortlist, which rewards courage “in upholding the freedom to publish and in enabling others to exercise their right to freedom of expression.”

That network of independent publishers of Persian-language literature (Farsi) this year has created the first digital edition of the fair.

Azadeh Parsapour

“As everything was canceled in 2020,” Parsapour tells us, “we all struggled and felt frustrated. In September Nogaam Publishing,” her press in London, “started the idea of having a series of programs online. Fortunately other independent publishers welcomed the idea and over the past two months we’ve tried hard to make it happen before the end of the year.

“Now 12 publishers of Persian books from different parts of the world have joined us for this big event.  More than 30 programs are being held through December 13, on our Instagram, Facebook, and Zoom platforms.” Those programs include book launches, interviews, and discussions.

An advantage of the online program, she notes, is that “Iranians inside the country can also participate in all of our programs and connect with exiled authors and translators.”

‘As Determined and United as Ever’

At the 2019 Tehran Book Fair Uncensored in Rotterdam. Image: TBGU, Alireza Kazemi

The network of presses working together on the project this week have issued a statement that reads:

“We, independent publishers of Persian books, are gathered once more to present the Uncensored Book Fair to the world. Although we are forced to be apart this year, we are as determined and united as ever.

“Our goal is to foster diverse voices, thoughts and beliefs in literature.

“We hope for a day on which freedom of expression will be one of the basic principles in our country;

“A day on which a writer can write about whatever and however he or she desires.

“A day when publishers can publish any book without being threatened or prosecuted.

“A day on which a reader can access any book without barriers.

“And all of that with not even one censored word.

“We hope for a day on which there’s no need for an “uncensored” book fair.”

You can see a listing of programming for this year’s evocation of the fair here.

On Wednesday (December 9), that programming includes an interview with author Jamshid Farooqi and another with author Marjan Riahi.

Programs continue through Sunday.

At the 2019 Tehran Book Fair Uncensored in Cologne. Image: TBFU

More from Publishing Perspectives on the freedom to publish is here, more on the International Alliance of Independent Publishers is here, and more from us on the Tehran Book Fair Uncensored is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.