Iran’s most beloved novelist, Iraj Pezeshkzad, is best known for his book My Uncle Napoleon, which was first published in 1973. Set in Tehran of 1941, the book narrates the story of a young boy in love with his cousin, while her paranoid father, a retired military officer obsessed with Napoleon and the fear of a British invasion, descends into madness. When it kicked off as a television series in December 1976, it came on after the 8 o’clock evening news and had the country riveted, cementing itself in the popular Iranian imagination for generations to come.
Pezeshkzad studied law in France between 1948 and 1952, and served as a judge in the Iranian judiciary for five years before joining the foreign service under the Shah. Following the 1979 revolution, he settled in Paris where he was politically active in Shapour Bakhtiar’s political party, the National Movement of Iranian Resistance, against the Islamic Republic. He wrote for the party’s political publications, including “Moroori bar vagheye 15 khordad 42,” a booklet reviewing how US pressure on the Shah to grant Americans immunity from prosecution paved the way for Khomeini to build a political base in 1963.
Pezeshkzad is a prolific writer, whose first book, Haji Mam-ja’far in Paris, published in 1954, is a satire about a man from a traditional Iranian milieu on a romp through Paris.