Your Middle East
Last updated: 12 May, 2014

This writer was censored by Iranian officials. Now he turns to Facebook to take his book public.

He had been trying for years. But no publishing license was offered for his latest novel. Iranian writer and journalist Mohammad Motlagh found himself trapped, desperate to share his work with a broader audience.

“A book is like a child to (a writer),” Motlagh explained in an interview with the semiofficial ISNA news agency. “One loses the motivation to write when it is considered illegitimate and it is not being issued a birth certificate. The writer cannot work on their next work.”

Having been rejected by officials at the Culture Ministry, responsible for censorship of content deemed immoral, he took a less traditional route to get the book out to the public – via Facebook.

Excerpts from the novel posted in an article with Radio Free Europe tells us a little bit about the nature of Motlagh’s writing, and why it might have been rejected.

“Maria: But I need you, Issa, why don’t you understand? Take this (money), I don’t want money or work, I can solve my problems on my own. I’ve told you a hundred times not to get yourself in trouble for me. What I need is you. Can you believe that from evening till night, I only talk to you? Now you want to take that away from me?

Issa: But I have a wife, Maria!

Maria: I’m not a selfish girl, I will be satisfied with half of your heart.”

Motlagh later told ISNA that because the novel “had a love triangle,” it could not be published at all, according to the censors.

But now he is out there. Fishing for an audience by publishing chapters exclusively on his private Facebook page. It is indeed an unusual way, and one that could perhaps be adapted by writers in other repressive states.

But let’s first wait and see where it takes Mr. Motlagh.