Translated by late Balochi writer and translator Vahedbakhsh Badpa, the book has been published by Rabidan Publications in Tehran.

The Persian version of the book was published in five volumes consisting of ten books over the period 1978 to 1984.

“Kelidar” narrates the life of a nomadic Kurdish family that moved to Sabzevar, Khorasan. The story is set against the highly charged political climate in Iran after World War II, between 1946 and 1949. The locale of the story covers a rather vast area in this region with its surrounding plains, villages, and small towns, an area where Dowlatabadi was born and later chose as the stage for most of his fictional work.

Based on actual events, the novel follows the trials and tribulations of the Kalmisi family and is peopled with an array of supporting characters. It begins with a memorable scene, which is described in heroic, lyrical, and sensual language.

Maral, a young Kurdish girl, proudly and majestically leads her horse toward the town’s prison to visit her father, Abdus, and her fiancé, Delavar. It is through Maral’s visit to the town and her traveling back to the Kalmisis that the other main characters of the novel are introduced.

Maral’s paternal aunt, Belqays, the matriarch of the family and the linking thread for the novel’s events and characters, and her husband, Kalmisi, have three sons and a daughter: Khan Mohammad, Gol-Mohammad, Beg Mohammad, and Shiru. Severe drought has deprived this sheepherding family of their livelihood, and the dry farming they have resorted to yields no crops.

Gol-Mohammad, the second son of the family, having just returned from mandatory military service and already married, falls in love with his cousin, Maral, and marries her. The marriage plants the seeds of hostility in Maral’s former fiancé, Delavar.

As the story progresses, the tension among different clans and families escalates, and in the course of quarrels and feuds over various issues, Gol-Mohammad kills a man from another family.

“Kelidar” derived its name from a mountain with the same name situated in proximity to the cities of Sabzevar, Neyshabur, and Quchan.

According to Encyclopedia Iranica, “Kelidar” enjoyed immense popularity and created a stir in intellectual circles even before the publication of its final volumes. The first three volumes appeared in the turbulent years before and after the revolution of 1979 and were a huge commercial success. Twenty thousand copies were sold before the publication of the complete five-volume set in 1984.

Dowlatabadi earned high critical acclaim for his complex depiction of characters, who often reveal their true nature through their physical characteristics and appearances; his vivid descriptions, his ability to offer a well-substantiated documentary on the physical, social, and political features of the region, his playful use of language, conveyed through the interplay of sand, cloud, and wind to describe the desert climate, and his creation of verbal rhythms and crescendos to accentuate the more dramatic moments of the story.

The novel, which was described by a critic as an “epic of decline”, also won the praise of commentators as a significant event in the history of modern Persian literature, the author has been also deemed a qualified nominee for a Nobel Prize in literature.

Mahmud Dowlatabadi was born in the Dowlatabad Village of Sabzevar in 1940. Self-educated and forced to work from childhood, Dowlatabadi spent part of his younger adult years as a stage actor in Tehran.

“Desert Strata”, “The Trip”, “The Legend of Baba Sobhan”, “The Cowherd”, “Aqil”, “Man” and “Missing Soluch” are among Dowlatabadi’s noteworthy credits.

Source: Tehran Times