Iran’s Association of Islamic Revolution Publishers’ Seyyed Ali Andarzgu Literary Awards seeks to keep history in line with state policy

The Seyyed Ali Andarzgu Literary Awards were launched this week by Iran’s Association of Islamic Revolution Publishers, with the objective to honour books about the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew the Shah and instated an Islamic Republic.

Named after Seyyed Ali Andarzgu, a revolutionary who was killed by the SAVAK intelligence services in 1978 the awards are intended to counter a,

current trend of attempts to sanctify the Pahlavi regime.

That’s a reference to the last Shah of Iran,  Mohammad Reza Pahlavi,  so it will be no surprise that titles like “Literary Struggle against the Distortion of Contemporary History” and “Depiction of Realities and Enlightenment on the Pahlavi Regime” were key topics for the awards.

That said, at least from the titles, there was more to the awards than just demonizing the former Shah.

According to the Tehran Times the ceremony at the Sureh Hall of the Art Bureau in Tehran on Sunday saw the award in the adult novel category shared by Mohammadreza Sharafi-Khabushan’s “Romance in a Van Gogh Style” and Saeid Tashakkori‘s “The Story of Goharshad.”

In the oral history category “Dairies of a Journalist” by Musa Haqqani took the prize, while in the YA section Hadi Hakimian’s “Persimmon Garden” and Ebrahim Hassanbeigi’s “Two Captions for One Picture” shared the award.

It’s not clear how much these YA novels dealt with the 1979 overthrow, but in his acceptance speech Hassanbeigi said,

If the noxious smell of the sanctification of the Pahlavi regime had not been detected, this award would never be organized.

Among the literati and cultural officials attending the awards was Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Qomi, the director of the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization, who said,

The enemies are telling our people lies disguised as criticism and historical facts. This is no longer a diversity of opinions, but is a distortion of the reality by them.

Strong sentiments, indeed.

But lest we think therefore that anything that said the right things would be in the running for an award, it should be noted that the award for the best short story was left on the shelf as the submissions were not of a “satisfactory” standard.

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