Short Story Centre

Persian Short Story Collections To Add To Your TBR


Persian short fiction is the jewel in the crown of Persian literature and culture. 

A lullaby, a grandmother’s bedtime story, or a tale from the Thousand and One Nights told by the heroine Scheherazade — the oral tradition of storytelling has been prominent in the Persian culture.

For hundreds of years these stories have formed a rich foundation for Persian authors. In the twentieth century, however, short stories became an important mode of expression in Persian literature, aiming at not only entertaining but also educating and promoting cultural values. 

With the limited possibility of publishing a full-length novel, the Iranian writers took to expressing themselves through the short story genre, influenced by modern literature. 

The modern Persian short stories are now known for transcending the boundaries of symbolic significance and realism – while some of these tales resemble folkloric fables, some give a vivid insight into modern Iranian society. 

With a population of 8.8 crores and 31 states dotting the country, Iran’s traditional and modern culture can be glimpsed through these five short story collections by the Persian authors.


Yaki Bud va Yaki Nabud by Muhammad Ali Jamalzadah

Yaki Bud va Yaki Nabud is a collection of short stories originally published in 1921. It’s an excellent display of Muhammad Ali’s talent for blending social and political criticism with his unique sense of humour. 

Jamalzadeh is known as the first writer of modern Persian short stories. His short fiction focuses on plot & action rather than character development or mood and in that respect, they are reminiscent of the works of French author Guy de Maupassant.


Seh Qatreh Khun (Three Drops of Blood) by Sadiq Hedayat 

Sadiq Hedayat’s Three Drops of Blood reflects his preoccupations with death and insanity. Sadiq, often addressed as the Iranian Edgar Allan Poe, with this Persian fiction, introduced modernism in Persian literature. The stories focus on latent vulnerabilities and psychological complexity of his characters. 

In Seh Qatreh Khun, he has employed multiple approaches, from surrealistic fantasy to naturalism and realism – breaking new grounds and introducing a new range of literary models into Iranian Literature. 


Antari Keh Loutiyash Mordeh Boud (The Baboon Whose Buffoon Was Dead) by Sadegh Chubak 

Antari Keh Loutiyash Mordeh Boud is a compilation of three short stories and a one-act play. Through these stories, Chubak addresses concepts such as salvation and liberty. The story spreads light on the relationship between the oppressed and their oppressor.

Sadeq Chubak is one of the first Persian authors to break the taboo. Inspired by the likes of William Faulkner and  Ernest Hemingway, Sadeq’s stories mirror the rotting society. For his stories, he picks marginal characters—corpse-washers, prostitutes, vagrants, pigeon-racers, and opium addicts—and he portrays them with vividness and force. 


Daneshvar’s Playhouse by Simin Daneshvar

Daneshvar’s Playhouse has intriguing stories that portray women from the various strata in Iranian society. All five stories focus on the social exclusion of women and their plight in Persian society. Simin addresses the topical issues from a women’s point of view – and she is bold and unapologetic in her narrative. 

These seemingly simple stories, through incomparable perception, compassion, and humour, capture the essence of the political complexity of modern Iran and the traditional culture that is undergoing change.  


And last but not the least:

The Little Black Fish by Samad Beh-Rang 

Samad Beh-Rang’s The Little Black Fish is a story of a fish embarking on an eye-opening journey that leads him to witness courage, awareness, wisdom, and the study of complex social relations. It’s a story about seeing beyond the confines of our self-centred lives and identifying wandering from stationary. Although this is a standalone story and not a collection, I’ve included it in this list, because it has a pedagogic value and many underlying political messages that help a reader identify different faces of freedom, equality and justice.  And like me, anybody interested in persian stories must definitely give this a try!


Your Turn:

What’s the best Persian Short-Story you’ve ever read? Do you have a favourite that I missed adding in this list? Please let me know in the comments below.