Seasons of Purgatory

208 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $16.99
ISBN: 9781942658955


ISBN: 9781942658962

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“Mandanipour served as a frontline officer in the Iran-Iraq war: a writer’s baptism of fire whose flames light up several stories here. . . . Seasons of Purgatory unites storytelling subtlety with scenes of visceral emotional impact.”

Wall Street Journal

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“A hauntingly nuanced and provocatively impressive collection.”

World Literature Today

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“Cause for celebration. . . . Mandanipour provides readers with a vivid and idiosyncratic map of [Iran’s] people and places, effortlessly translated by Sara Khalili whose close collaboration with the author is palpable on every gleaming, blade-sharp page.”

Chicago Review of Books

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“Read[s] like dispatches from the front. . . . [Mandanipour] sifts through military conflict, the repression of women, the forbidden graves of the state-executed, and the shattered minds of children. Storytelling and remembering are subversive acts when power benefits from forgetting.”

Los Angeles Review of Books

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“Bewitching and disorienting. . . . Mandanipour has been compared to Milan Kundera and to the artist M.C. Escher for the way his fictions require the reader to put them together like a puzzle. . . . The stories in Seasons of Purgatory are stunning.”

Washington Independent Review of Books

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“Each mesmerizing story . . . put[s] us into a state of disequilibrium in a way that highlights the complexities of the human experience in the fallout of war and revolution.”

Litro Magazine

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“Enchanting, unnerving, and resonant. . . . The prose is beautiful, the characters feel real, and the situations they find themselves in are haunting.”

Shelf Unbound

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“Mandanipour respects his reader by esteeming resonance over facile moralism or plot-shock. . . . The psyche in his stories gnaws at an actual world and eludes purgatory for the moment by giving that world an obsessively resonant sound, rendered with a keen ear for urgency and strife by translator Sara Khalili.”

On the Seawall

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“Rich with enigma, asking to be read, then read again.”

Full Stop

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“Stunning. . . . Deserves a much wider readership.”

Literary Hub

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“A must read for lovers of the short story.”

North of Oxford

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“A scorchingly beautiful collection in elegant, icepick-sharp prose.”

Library Journal (starred review)

“While the turmoil and danger of everyday life in Iran are the backdrop, Mandanipour focuses on the personal struggles of the characters and their hardscrabble lives. . . . These haunting, urgent works are as nuanced and provocative as the lives they depict.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Seasons of Purgatory is a stunning collection of stories about Iran’s traditions, its violent recent history, and how the memory of both influences daily life.”

Foreword Reviews (starred review)

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“Dostoyevskian in their density and black humor, Mandanipour’s stories capture the Iranian experience of constant upheaval in a brilliant translation that allows the English-speaking world to experience this gem of Iranian literature.”


“Altogether subversive. . . . [Mandanipour is] a skilled storyteller with a bent for the quietly macabre and the burdens of those crushed by totalitarian rule.”

Kirkus Reviews

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“A remarkable writer. . . . At once beautiful and horrific, Mandanipour’s tales reveal a people with dreams, fears and hopes; a culture that is ancient yet struggling to be a part of today’s world.”

Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (Spokane, WA)

“Vivid. . . . Each of the stories evokes a primal emotional response in some way or another, which makes this a fascinating read.”

Stuart McCommon, novel. (Memphis, TN)

“Smart and dynamic stories. . . . Textured, intricate, and thought-provoking with a touch of mystery and a pinch of poetry—just what I like from a story collection!”

Serena Morales, Books Are Magic (Brooklyn, NY)

“Masculinity, filtered through a variety of repressive state and societal apparatuses is on full display. . . . [Mandanipour] offers tiny glimpses of redemption but this is mostly a leopard eat stray dog world. Highly recommended.”

Douglas Riggs, Bank Square Books (Mystic, CT)

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“Nine short stories about Iran’s recent traumas, from the 1953 coup to the Iran-Iraq war. . . . Atmospheric and haunting, Mandanipour deftly incorporates magical realism through the use of animals in his unforgettable appraisal of the human condition.”

Somerville Public Library

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In Seasons of Purgatory, the fantastical and the visceral merge in tales of tender desire and collective violence, the boredom and brutality of war, and the clash of modern urban life and rural traditions. Mandanipour, banned from publication in his native Iran, vividly renders the individual consciousness in extremis from a variety of perspectives: young and old, man and woman, conscript and prisoner. While delivering a ferocious social critique, these stories are steeped in the poetry and stark beauty of an ancient land and culture.

Seasons of Purgatory is translated from the Persian by Sara Khalili.

National Book Award Longlist

Publishers Weekly “Best Books of the Year” selection

Library Journal “Best Books of the Year” selection

World Literature Today “Notable Translations of the Year” selection

Cosmopolitan (Middle East) “TBR list” selection

Chicago Review of Books “Must-Read Books” selection

Book Riot “Great Short Story Collections by Asian Authors” & “Best Short Stories of All Time” selections

Kirkus Reviews “Great International Books for U.S. Readers” selection

BookBrowse “Best Books Publishing This Week” selection

Foreword Reviews “Book of the Day” selection

Bank Square Books Staff Pick

Bookstore1Sarasota “Short Story Book Club” selection

Powell’s Books “New Literature in Translation” selection

Books Are Magic “Most Anticipated Books” selection

Somerville Public Library Staff Pick

Seattle Public Library “New Fiction” selection



Excerpt from Seasons of Purgatory

Shahriar Mandanipour and Sara Khalili discuss Seasons of Purgatory with Shelf Unbound and in the “National Book Award Interviews” series at Words Without Borders.

Read more interviews with Shahriar Mandanipour in Assignment Magazine.

Read a story from Seasons of Purgatory in Joyland Magazine.