Iranian women read more, translate more, and write more. They are more present in the book market than men.
French authors Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir rub shoulders with the likes of Jewish diarist Anne Frank and Russian poet Osip Mandelstam in Tehran bookstores where the largely female readership lap up foreign writers.
Women readers are looking first for “romantic” books or thrillers, such as those by Americans like Sidney Sheldon and Mary Higgins Clark or the prolific British crime writer Agatha Christie.
If censorship is present in Iranian publishing, it affects mainly content deemed licentious, and many Western bestsellers are quickly translated and made available in Iran, where copyright is not recognized.
Featured on many display tables in the Iranian capital is “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Israeli academic Yuval Noah Harari, translated into Persian. But not all the best selling foreign books are recent releases, however.
Tehran’s bookstores are stocked with abundant and diverse titles but “printing has slowed down” since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Like in other countries, the outbreak of COVID-19 forced booksellers to adapt, particularly during periods when all non-essential businesses were closed by authorities to combat the virus’ spread.