Iran-born writer "kills" ayatollah in novel
By Martin Roberts
GIJON, Spain (Reuters Life!) - Nairi Nahapetian gets her own back on the Iranian regime which forced her into exile by writing a novel about the murder of a powerful religious leader.
Nahapetian returned to Iran as a journalist in 2005 but says that she had to turn to fiction to fully describe the complexities of the homeland she fled when she was nine.
"Thanks to fiction I can, for example, kill an ayatollah, which is something you cannot do in real life," Nahapetian said at the "Semana Negra" crime-writing festival, attended by a million people every year in Gijon, northern Spain.
In "Qui a tue l'Ayatollah Kanuni" (Who killed Ayatollah Kanuni), Narek, an exiled journalist who returns to Iran, is in the wrong place at the wrong time when a religious leader is found dead.
The authorities instinctively suspect Narek because he has lived abroad for so long, but it soon becomes apparent that they have few clues because the ayatollah had made many enemies by sentencing people to death and by his involvement in murky financial deals.
Investigations are further complicated by competing security forces and the secrecy of all levels of Iranian society, as well as its enigmas.
Nahapetian's leading player is Leila, an Islamic feminist, which she says may appear contradictory to Western readers but only because of their stereotyped images of Iran. Continued...