Gholam-Hossein Sa’edi was born and came of age in the turbulent climate of Iranian Azerbaijani separatist politics. As a young man he dedicated himself to battling the political and cultural repression of the Shah’s regime and producing novels, short stories, plays, and even ethnographic travel literature. One of Sa’edi’s most memorable contributions to the Iranian literary tradition was his screenplay for Dariush Mehrjui’s 1969 film Gav (“The Cow”), which helped usher in the New Wave of Iranian cinema.

Having been imprisoned and tortured by the shah’s regime in 1974 due to his political and literary activities, Sa’edi welcomed the change of regime in Iran five years later. But the ultimate consolidation of the Islamist Khomeini faction in the Revolution, the subsequent crackdown on political and cultural expression, and the threat of incarceration or worse ultimately compelled Sa’edi to flee Iran for Paris. There he resumed his editorship of the journal Alefba and continued producing narrative fiction, but the toll that exile was taking on him was already manifest. In 1985, Sa’edi was diagnosed with cirrhosis after years of heavy drinking, and he died of a stroke that November.

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