On Thursday May 7th, the creator of beloved and immortal Dai Jan Napoleon, Iraj Pezeshkzad gave a talk at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, interviewed by Dr. Abbas Milani, part of Iranian Studies Spring Lecture Series. The avuncular gray hair soul was as witty in person as he is on ink. The masterful raconteur captured the audience as he first captured our hearts on that warm summer day, or exactly on the 13th of Iranian month of Mordad when his protagonist first fell in love with his cousin. And like his protagonist's first love, the audience fell in love with him.
Pezeshkzad began by recounting the historical backdrop of Iran's 1970, giving the audience, especially the younger readers, a broader context about the time of the book's publishing and the lukewarm reception by the book critics.The first-person recounting of the author's connection--or rather the lack thereof --with then prime minister Hovaida shed a brighter light on dismissing rumors against the author and the ill-conceived accusations against him.
The talk ended at a high-note, with Pezeshkzad's satirical retelling of his anonymous in-flight encounter with a fellow Iranian and a dismissor of his book. The poor person, only named by "Doctor ..." claimed the success of the book as part of a larger conspiracy. Not knowing he was sitting next to the author himself, Doctor dot dot dot asked Pezeshkzad if he knew "Pezeshkzad"? Following with, "I know him" to support his argument for dismissing the book. The comedy of the story left no one laughing, and made Doctor dot dot dot the poster-child of Dai Jan Napoleon critics.
For the audience, at least for me, this night shall be as indelible as Pejeshkzad's opening paragraph and I shall look back at these pictures with found memories remembering my chance encounter with the father of my beloved Iranian protagonist.
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