(The most beloved Iranian novel of the twentieth century “...)
The most beloved Iranian novel of the twentieth century “God forbid, I’ve fallen in love with Layli!” So begins the farce of our narrator’s life, one spent in a large extended Iranian family lorded over by the blustering, paranoid patriarch, Dear Uncle Napoleon. When Uncle Napoleon’s least-favorite nephew falls for his daughter, Layli, family fortunes are reversed, feuds fired up and resolved, and assignations attempted and thwarted. First published in Iran in the 1970s and adapted into a hugely successful television series, this beloved novel is now “Suggested Reading” in Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran. My Uncle Napoleon is a timeless and universal satire of first love and family intrigue.
Iraj Pezeshkzad got his initial education in Iran. While a student of high school, Iraj had a private French language tutor in Tehran. For a year he attended French school in Tehran, where he learned to translate books from French to Persian. Later moved to France, where he received his degree in Law.
Iraj Pezeshkzad served as a judge in the Iranian Judiciary for five years prior to joining the Iranian Foreign Service. He served as a diplomat until the Iranian revolution in 1979, and left the Foreign Service to reside in France after the revolution, where he joined Shapour Bakhtiar and his party the National Movement of Iranian Resistance against the Islamic regime established in Iran.
He began writing in the early 1950s by translating the works of Voltaire and Molière into Persian and by writing short stories for magazines. His novels include Haji Mam-ja'far in Paris, Mashalah Khan in the Court of Haroun al-Rashid, Asemun Rismun, Honar-e Mard beh ze Dolat-e oost, and Dai Jan Napoleon. He has also written several plays and various articles on the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution.
His most recent novel is Khanevade-ye Nik-Akhtar (The Nik-Akhtar Family). He has recently published his autobiography titled Golgashtha-ye Zendegi (The Pleasure-grounds of Life).
He is currently living in Paris where he works as a journalist.
In 1979 Iraj Pezeshkzad joined Shapour Bakhtiar (Iranian politician, scientist, writer and the last Prime Minister of Iran under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) and his party - the National Movement of Iranian Resistance against the Islamic regime.
"In the end, the nationality of the writer is based on the language with which he chooses to express his thoughts. Hence, an Iranian writer in exile who writes in his native language is Iranian, but one who prefers to describe his sentiments in English or French is no longer an "Iranian writer"; the bridge has been crossed."
"I am removed from my natural environment [Iran] and the inspiration I need to fuel my creativity is no longer accessible."
"The difference between me and Abolqader was that I spoke to my wife with refinement and he spoke to her coarsely and violently, I took a shower once a day and he took one once a month, I didn't even eat spring onions and he ate onions and garlic and radishes by the kilo, I read her poetry by Sa'di and he belched at her...and so in my wife's eyes I was stupid and he was clever, I was an idiot and he was intelligent. I was coarse and he was refined...But apparently he was a very good traveller.." (from My Uncle Napoleon).”
"Historically when one wants to be the sole ruler he will surround himself only with people who agree with his decisions rather than those who question their decisions." (from interview with "Iranian Heritage")
Quotes from others about the person
I knew that Mr. Iraj Pezeshkzad (whose name was scribbled in small black letters across the top of the book) was one of the reasons I learned to appreciate my mother tongue. - Tara Taghizadeh, writer.
Iraj Pezeshkzad's satire "My Uncle Napoleon" may do more to improve U.S.-Iranian relations than a generation of shuttle diplomats and national apologies." - The Plain Dealer, US newspaper.