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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


آمریکایی کُشی در تهران

Amir Hassan Cheheltan

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Title: آمریکایی کُشی در تهران
Author: Amir Hassan Cheheltan
Genre: Novel
Written: 2008
Length: 187 pages
Original in: Farsi
Availability: Amerikaner töten in Teheran - Deutschland
  • آمریکایی کُشی در تهران has not been translated into English yet

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Our Assessment:

B : good concept, fairly well executed

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Der Tagesspiegel . 9/9/2011 Ulrike Baureithel
taz . 12/10/2011 Ingo Arend

  From the Reviews:
  • "Diese kommentierenden Passagen gehören zu den schwächeren Teilen des Buches (.....) Dass er ein Kenner der iranischen Verhältnisse und Mentalität ist und den Wechsel von eindringlichen Szenen und ironischem Kommentar beherrscht, beweist er auch mit diesem neuen Buch." - Ulrike Baureithel, Der Tagesspiegel

  • "Leider kommt dem begnadeten Erzähler Cheheltan immer wieder der Journalist Cheheltan in die Quere. (...) Über diese Widersprüche hilft der Erzähler hinweg: Sein Sarkasmus und sein erbarmungsloser Blick verwandeln Cheheltans Gerüst aus Fakten immer wieder zu reiner Poesie; Schönheit und Schrecken sind ihm zwei Seiten derselben Medaille." - Ingo Arend, taz

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The German translation of آمریکایی کُشی در تهران -- on which this review is based -- has the title 'Amerikaner töten in Teheran', which can mean both 'Killing Americans in Tehran', and 'Americans killing [others] in Tehran'. That's what Amir Hassan Cheheltan presents in his novel, a series of killings that also serve as snapshots of the Iranian (twentieth) century -- and reflect the role America played in Iran during that time.
       The novel is presented in six episodes, all of which are centered on actual events that were turning points in Iranian history. The first episode is set in 1924, when an American diplomat, Robert Imbrie, was killed by a mob -- an incident that led to the imposition of martial law. The second describes the 1953 coup d'état and the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh, orchestrated by Kermit 'Kim' Roosevelt.
       The third episode is set in 1973, as would-be revolutionaries specifically begin to target Americans. The fourth episode is set in 1978, the revolution now inevitable (even as its form is not yet clear), and finds Robert Imbrie's grand-nephew returning to Tehran. The fifth episode is set on 24 January 1979, a week after the departure of the Shah and a week before the return of Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran. The final episode is set in the summer of 1988, when the Iranian regime executed thousands of political prisoners.
       While Cheheltan loosely connects these episodes -- Imbrie's grand-nephew as a connection to the earlier time, or in the character of Reza, who goes from revolutionary to prisoner to broken man in several episodes -- it is history that dominates. The episodes truly are meant to be snapshots of those most pivotal moments, and the stories that Cheheltan presents then offering a variety of reflections on them -- sometimes very directly, as when Imbrie's grand-nephew is in conversation with a professor about what has happened in Iran, and other times obliquely, as in the final epsiode, where the broken Reza, taking care of his senile mother, is rounded up by the police.
       آمریکایی کُشی در تهران can't escape its author's didactic and instructive intentions. Built up around such significant dates, Cheheltan has to tread carefully not to let them overwhelm the stories; covering so much in such a small space -- it is a fairly short book -- he has to be careful not give short shrift to so much history. On the whole, the varied approaches he takes serve him well, making for interesting perspectives; the most familiar episode, the 1953 coup d'état, is the one in which he seems most unsure of his footing -- but then the material is so rich that it's still a compelling episode, regardless.
       Cheheltan has not pared away twentieth century Iranian history to its essence, but his choice of what to focus on -- and what to leave out (including, most obviously to American readers, the hostage crisis in the wake of the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran) -- does make for a fairly powerful and effective portrait of a nation. Arguably focused on the worst that has happened, it points specifically to foreign interference as having repeatedly led to bad outcomes. (As Cheheltan amusingly points out, too, the Americans were originally seen as benign, while it was the British who were viewed with the most suspicion.) Cheheltan makes many of his points rather obviously, but then the events he centers his narrative on barely allow him otherwise.
       آمریکایی کُشی در تهران is a good introductory novel of a country and of what it has been through. Cheheltan offers both art and analysis, but can't quite commit to one or the other in this novel. If ultimately not entirely successful as a reading-experience, it remains an interesting work.

- M.A.Orthofer, 27 October 2011

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آمریکایی کُشی در تهران: Reviews: Amir Hassan Cheheltan: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Iranian author Amir Hassan Cheheltan (امیرحسن چهلتن) was born in 1956.

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© 2011 the complete review

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