Black Parrot, Green Crow:
A Collection of Short Fiction

Houshang Golshiri

translated from the Persian
Mage Publishers 2003
A book review by Danny Yee © 2009
Set in Iran both under the Shah and after the Revolution, the stories in Black Parrot, Green Crow convey a strong feeling for the time and place of their setting. They are varied in subject, ranging from bumbling secret policemen and the effects of imprisonment on prisoners and their families to eerie stories about wolves and old religious practices. A recurrent theme is the plight of individuals facing political tyranny, unexpected cultural change, or a hostile society.

Some of the stories are indirect, told by secondary characters or by those left behind rather than those in prison. This and a leavening of humour help prevent the often bleak, sometimes shocking, and occasionally brutal material from being overpowering. Other stories are more light-hearted, and a few have surprise twists.

Many of the stories in Black Parrot, Green Crow use stream of consciousness and in many the reader is immediately immersed in the setting, with the context only revealed as the story progresses. This, along with the cultural gap most non-Iranian readers will face, contributes to making Golshiri's stories difficult or even disconcerting, at least at first.

None of this should put potential readers off, however. Golshiri's writing winds its coils powerfully and some of his characters and events are hard to forget.

Black Parrot, Green Crow includes a ten page introduction by editor Heshmat Moayyad, with background on Golshiri and his work.

February 2009

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%T Black Parrot, Green Crow
%S A Collection of Short Fiction
%A Golshiri, Houshang
%E Moayyad, Heshmat
%M Persian
%I Mage Publishers
%D 2003
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0934211744
%P 241pp