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Bahiyyih Nakhjavani was born in Iran in 1948. She grew up in Uganda and was educated in England and the USA. She is a British subject and now lives in France after having lived and worked in several countries. Two of her books have been published by Actes Sud, La Sacoche (2000 ; Babel n ° 477) and Les Cinq Rêves du scribe (2003 : Babel n ° 844).
When We Grow Up
Four on an Island
Asking Questions : A Challenge to Fundamentalism
The Saddlebag - A Fable for Doubters and Seekers
Paper - The Dreams of A Scribe
La Femme qui lisait trop (Actes Sud, 2008)
Les Cinq Rêves du Scribe (Actes Sud, 2003)
La sacoche (Actes, 2000)
Synopsis of La Femme qui lisait trop
The story occurs in Teheran in the 19th century. The shah’s court is rife with plots and more or less successful assassination attempts under the ironic and cruel gaze of the Persian sovereign. But this time however, the very ancient realm will be shaken to its foundations not so much by the factious scheming of the courtiers (that the ambassador for her Royal Highness the British Queen is following with great interest) but by the unexpected arrival of a learned poetess whose poems and sayings have a deep energising if not subversive and even heretical influence on one and all, far and wide across the land. Some will even try to say that her writings are both subversive and heretical, so the reader is left to wonder whether poetry or violence will emerge victorious. We are given here a very interesting portrait of a historical figure, the poetess Tahirih Qurratu’l-Ayn who is relatively unknown but who bravely fought, in her capacity as an exceptional literary figure and a free woman, against the lay and religious power holders of her times at the peril of her own life.
Bahiyyih Nakhjavani paints a vivid picture in this novel of the age-old issue of one’s freedom of expression when confronted with lay and religious authorities.
The novel is written as a historical fiction in a very rich language that brings together all the threads of History, religion, art and women’s issues and forces the reader to think about very contemporary subjects