“Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” comes to Iranian bookstores

August 23, 2021 - 18:51

TEHRAN – A Persian translation of American writer David Foster Wallace’s critically acclaimed short story collection “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” has been published in Tehran.

The book first published by Little, Brown in 1999 has been translated into Persian by Moein Farrokhi. Cheshmeh is the publisher of the book. 

According to the papers in the David Foster Wallace Archive at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, the book has estimated net sales of 17,500 hardcover copies during the first year of its publication making it a literary fiction bestseller.

The 23 meta-fictional pieces in the collection are “difficult to categorize, roaming willfully across the boundaries of genres and inventing new ones”, which one story (“Octet”) appears to “self-mockingly acknowledge.”

Four of the stories are entitled “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” and consist of numbered sections of varying lengths that are presented as transcripts of interviews with male subjects. The interviewer’s questions are omitted from the transcripts, rendered merely as “Q”. The collection is characterized by dark humor, alienation and irony.

In light of revelations regarding Wallace’s misogynistic and abusive behavior, some scholars have questioned the motives of Wallace’s stories, particularly in the collection which prominently featured misogynistic male characters.

Among the stories are “The Depressed Person”, a dazzling and blackly humorous portrayal of a woman’s mental state; “Adult World”, which reveals a woman’s agonized consideration of her confusing relationship with her husband; and “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”, a dark, hilarious series of portraits of men whose fear of women renders them grotesque. 

Wallace’s stories present a world where the bizarre and the banal are interwoven and where hideous men appear in many different guises. Thought-provoking and playful, this collection confirms David Foster Wallace as one of the most imaginative young writers around. Wallace delights in leftfield observation, mining the ironic, the surprising and the illuminating from every situation.

Photo: A poster for the Persian translation of David Foster Wallace’s short story collection “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”.

MMS/YAW

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