Critique of memories That Are Less Be Seen in Written and Published Works

"Zoqaq (Alley) Fifty Six" is a Historical And Oral Narrative

Adjusted by Sarah Rashadizadeh
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Book Review of "Zoqaq Fifty Six" was held in community center in Wednesday, September 21, 2016 attended by Hani Khorramshahi, narrator and author of the book, Mohammad Qobadi, critic, and a group of book enthusiasts in Mellal Commuity Center. The first edition of "Zoqaq Fifty Sixth" has been published in 2015 by the Office of Culture and Resistance studies of the Provincial Administration and Council of Art, and Soore Mehr Publications.

Hani Khorramshahi, author of "Zoqaq Fifty Six" introduced the book: "it is in the field of memoir and is story of my life since birth to entering Iran. What is considerable in writing this book is its factuality and completely contains my personal views and hearings. In addition, it can be seen as a document of contemporary history that has narrated untold words of the abroad. At the other hand, if we treat it in the field of resistance literature, we see again another eminent difference because I think all books of the field has an approach from inside to outside. Books of resistance literature are memories and observations of fighters and generally Iranian writers, but "Zoqaq Fifty Six" is life story of a person who lived in abroad and it is itself a distinction of the book."

He pointed: "In addition, while it describe memories has a fictional nature, and according to readers' comments this feature has added to charm of the book. Accordingly, I hope more people to study it. The book includes the hardships and difficulties that occurred to me as a narrator."


A Looking at Contemporary History of the Region

Then Mohammad Qobadi, as the critic of "Zoqaq Fifty Six" gave a speech. This book both in terms of writing and processing issues and its engineering is considered a very valuable and new work. But it doesn't mean that there is no work in this style, but overall is a remarkable book. First let me point out today is Wednesday, September 21, 2016. 36 years ago in such day, Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party began a wide invasion on Iran. An invasion which in fact did not begin that day, but he already had begun his savagery in invading human frontage in social-cultural borders of Iran and Iraq. Cultural and economic links and the most important religious links between the two countries is not a matter that be stated in the discussion and at the other hand it is so new and apparent that if we suffice this notice, it is not wrong.

He continued by referring to contemporary history of the region: "This part of my remarks is an explicit note to the political domination of colonialism in contemporary history of the region. A region that changed after World War I, the Ottoman state broke and England emerged through it and influenced. On the other hand, the ruler of Iraq expelled many Ulamas and Influencers in the political movement from the country in excuse of Revolution 1920. Documents show England diplomacy by using power of regional rulers had what kind of treat with and Sunni people and also Shia Ulamas, who were influencer and their talk were listened by people, and the action maybe the first move in the field that was made so extended and planned by Iraqi government at that time, but certainly it was not the last time. Regional political rivalries between Iran and Iraq during the rule of left Baath Party and different ideologies toward governance and consequently membership of two countries between two blocs during the Cold War and border disputes and many other issues led to recurrence of inhuman crimes and many were forced to accept an injustice that was not resolved easily. At the other hand, expulsion of Feyli Kurds in May 1969 and also many of Iranian residents in Iraq in January 1972 in multiple excuses and continuing the human disaster by rise of Saddam in July 1979, all of these indicated the misfortune event that must be called just a crime against human and humanity."


The Book Is the Result of the Narrator's Views and Hearsays

Qobadi introduced "Zoqaq Fifty Six", "The book is result of the narrator and his associates views and hearsays, because this book is not a single narrative of a witness, but includes events that the narrator has seen, heard and even has questioned in order to finding a truth. But let me tell you my information about the narrator before entering the book. At a glance it can be said that the narrator was born in a resident Iranian family in Iraq; A family at high cultural and economic class. His father educated in Europe and is an official in a bureau in Bagdad and his mother also while she was married in age of 9 but continued her educations years later and is introduced as a teacher in the book. The narrator and his family house are located in a neighborhood of the diplomats and affluent of Baghdad. He goes abroad in holidays, buys different and perhaps expensive toys and so on. In addition, he is the third baby of the family and is the first student in school because of his high intelligence. He is intelligent because he describes some details in the book, for example he uses his mother cooking and her food instruction to make specific spaces of the book and show us what he wants to say."

Then he introduced the book: "Before entering the text, let's have a definition of the book and know whether the book should be defined in the field of oral history or literature; because basically when it comes to memory, one pays attention to literature, But because of a leg of memory is always in history we should consider whether it could be seen with characteristics of a historical text or not? I think there are three factors for history, time, place and subject, and the book is somewhat lack of time. It doesn't mean that we don’t know where we are in the work, but in terms of that we don't know in which situation the events located based on transposition time, it puts the reader in a turbulent time and exactly this across the text of a historical text. so if this is not a historical text is surely a literary text. But contrary to the expectation, I think because of lacking imagination in the work so it is not also only a literary text and one cannot define it as a historical story or a historical novel."

Referring to the nature of oral history in documentation, Qobadi said: "I see the book in form of an documentary oral historical narrative and of course I have to say it is completely different with another work in the field of oral memories or oral history and I wish this work was formulated in an oral chat and in order to produce a work on oral history, Because then it was closer to a historical text and narrator could answer more exact to some issues and unanswered questions in the text."


The audience along with the Narrative

He continued: "This book has nineteen chapters and in each chapter at the beginning familiars reader with an almost new atmosphere. In terms of having a story-styled writing and that the author has showed that really is a capable writer and is powerful in telling story, made it a charming and unputdownable for the reader and it is one of positive features of the book. "Zoqaq Fifty six" has an easy reading text and doesn't trouble readers; the advantage influences much in companionship of audience with the narrator, especially that he hasn't sufficed his own narrative to state events but has applied multiple narrators and this increased charm of the text. Moreover, the work is very new and so important because it addressed a subject that while it is so important but very unknown for reader and at every moment, reader become familiar with a new point and subject."

Qobadi said referring to originality of subject, "importance and originality of the work and heavy consequences for not just the narrator and his companionships, but also for all people involved in the events has been made that I suggest to translate it in Arabic and English. Even we can and it must be presented by NGOs and states in international seminars, so I suggest to every institution and person that is has facilities and is in its/his or her task pay more attention to the issue in first move and study and analyzes it more and publish remarkable works such the book in order to informing people and translate them."

He then said about appearance of the book "The book looks good in appearance. It has both a suitable format and cover. Cover page is a picture of a bicycle designed on a light page that seeing such a bicycle gives a sense of familiarity to the reader. The sense in which the reader can sit on the bike and pedals along with the narrator in his diary. But unlike the cover, on the "List" matters with black and gray background did not attract me and also at the end of the book that I still believe that the same gray backgrounds neutralized photos and the reader doesn't pleasure images visually."

He added about the preface, "the preface is written by the Office of Culture and Resistance studies of the Provincial Administration and Council of Art and it has mentioned in the preface, the memories are less seen in written and published works. Because it talks about layers that are not discussed in formal and even semiformal documents and writings and basically these documents cannot to address the issue in this way. Specifically political and bureaucratic concerns of formal and perhaps semiformal documents has led that cultural and social subjects being less discussed in the documents and talk about habits and manners of ordinary people. "Zoqaq Fifty Six" allow us to be familiar with habits and manners of another people during its words, so with respect to I offer that friends who haven't read the book read it.


A Mixture of Oral History and Literature

He criticized the introduction mentioning the point that "Zoqaq Fifty Six" is a book in field of oral history and stated: "however it is an oral narrative with a storied look-in, its introduction is not remarkable. In the introduction shortly and in four and half pages it appreciates some companionships and encouragers of the narrator whereas one could understand through writing style that the narrator is himself in thanksgiving position. The text has a good start in the first chapter, specifically at the end of the chapter the narrator asks a question that himself engages it later. As well as detailed description of the narrator has made the text attractive, and it is a worthy advantage not just for the chapter but throughout the narrative; specifically the reader, in addition to reading text, can image events like a movie. It is slowly more appeared in middle of the book because the narrator depends more on his observations and narrates them."

Qobadi added "loyalty in expressing his observations and hearsays is another feature. For example he gives easily the chance to the audience to judge his father and notes that his father interested in watching cartoon and movie and it led his absence in his niece nephew wedding or instead of pay attention to his wife birth pain watched movie. Noting important matters is a point that is truly seen in his narratives. In another word, they are tribute of expulsion of Feyli Kurds that engaged the troublesome. Feily Kurds are of Shia Kurds tribes of Iran who lived in borders of Iran and Iraq during Safavid and played important role in culture and economy and albeit all aspects of their area. They were sacrificed after rise of Baath party by applying party policies and political contests. Most of them were expelled from their houses and dispossessed in very deplorable conditions and empty-handed during 1960s. However, Iraq's supreme criminal court announced crimes of Baath regime against Feyli Kurds as genocide."

Then he talked about parts of the book, "in page 145 of chapter 11, it is noted a point that I remembered a quote of pilot Amir (Major general), Brigadier General Mohammad Seddiq Qaderi. He quoted 9 days after the war that I was commanded to fly in order to attack an installation in Bagdad based on an already decided plan. Because of my mission I was flying in a very low height of Bagdad but suddenly I was involved by air defense. At the moment, the plane's engine was destroyed and I saw a multi-story glass building in front of myself. I decided to encounter the plane to the building before Ejecting but in a moment, it came to mind maybe it is a residential building and in this case some innocent would be killed, so I took the plane upward 20 degrees with all of my energy and after passing the building I Ejected and finally was captive but I always regretted to didn't clash to that building because I found later that it was building of Iraqi Intelligence Service.


Two Critiques on the Book

Qobadi stating his expectations of the book added, "I expected a question to be answered in the work; a question that is directly related to the narrator's identity and identity subject is so important; about that how did the narrator compose years of living, education, and even marriage with delights, memories and an identity that he acquired during adolescence in Iraq? Hasn't the change or it is better to say compulsory migration caused him dichotomy or conflict? Specifically we explicitly encounter two memories in the book that show the narrator had faced both of them and had reacted to them. One in an occasion that the narrator is gratified for winning Iraq football team v Iran and is objected by his peers because they see him as an Iranian, and another time 20 years after the first meet it happens a like event that at the time the narrator is objected by his friends after gratifying for winning of Iran football team v Iraq because they know him as an Iraqi and I think the subject is very important."

He continued his talks with another critique, "I think another critique is that the narrator abandons the book at the end in a vacuum. In fact, when the narrator gets help from other narrators for complementing his narratives sorts the reader out here about that narrators, but he doesn't sort reader out about his father, mother, brother and sister and after reading the book the question remains in mind of reader how was future of his parent? Where are they now? How about his sister? How about his brother? And questions like this that if they would be answered reader finished the book with more satisfaction."

Qobadi finally mentioned a question that the book created for him, "reading "Zoqaq Fifty Six" vivified me the question that how was Baath Party and Saddam treat with Iranian warriors while they had such behavior with people who were originating efforts and cultural, economic and social prosperity of Iraq for many years? Subject of the book is maybe related to Iraq war against Iran indirectly but we should know that the issues are consequences of the war that Saddam blazed it and finally included him and God knows what kind of valuable human capitals were lost."

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