Ethnic Horror Stories in English

financialtribune: ‘Haunted in Milak’ has 12 short stories, all happening in Milak village, Qazvin Province, and narrates the story of lonely men and women who are entangled in a web of local beliefs and traditions

The first volume of a trilogy written by Iranian author Yousef Alikhani has been translated into English and brought out by Candle & Fog Publishing house.

 The Persian book ‘Ghadam Bekheir Was My Grandmother,’ first published in 2003 by Ofoq Publications, has been rendered in English by Mandana Davarkia and published under the title ‘Haunted in Milak’.

Milak is the name of a village in Alamut region of Qazvin Province, Iran, where Alikhani, 41, was born.

Alikhani who has a bachelor’s degree in Arabic language and literature from the University of Tehran, has published a number of books including his collection of short stories in three volumes.

‘Haunted in Milak’ has 12 short stories, all happening in Milak, in which Alikhani narrates the story of lonely men and women who are entangled in a web of local beliefs and traditions.

The narratives tell of fantasy creatures and horrific events in which the inhabitants of the village believe. Women and death are the main theme in most of the strange and fantastically unusual stories of the collection.

The book can also be regarded as a valuable source of folk culture specific to the Alamout region for researchers interested in the history of the area.

Although not a lengthy book, the translation took over a year. “Alikhani’s book is written in the special dialect used in Milak and is difficult to read and grasp as there are lots of unknown words and expressions used in every page,” the translator told the Financial Tribune.

Born to a Russian father and Iranian mother (from Gilan Province in north of Iran), Davarkia said that although Gilani dialect is different from Milaki, there are similarities between the two and she could understand some of the words and expressions. “But I checked the book line by line with the author to understand it fully and that is why it took so long,” she added.

On changing the book title in the English version, Davarkia explained that the Persian title included a proper name, Ghadam Bekheir, of a rural woman which would “not convey any special meaning to the foreign reader, so we decided to change it”.

She said she is interested in translating the other volumes of Alikhani’s short story collection, namely ‘Dragon Killing’ (published in Persian in 2007) and ‘Willow’s Bride’ (2009). “I am interested in the other two books as well but have not taken a decision yet.”

Translator and Interpreter

Davarkia holds a master’s degree in simultaneous and consecutive interpretation and translation from Applied Science University in Tehran. She also received a Distinguished Diploma in news writing and journalism from the London School of Journalism.

A translator and interpreter, she has also worked as a journalist in the Persian language newspaper Jam-e-Jam and the English section of Jam-e-Jam Online for over 10 years.

Candle & Fog, a publishing house with offices in Tehran and London, presents English readers of the world a selection of the best Persian novels and stories and provides them with a unique insight into the literature, culture and history of Iran.

‘Haunted in Milak’ has been edited by the Irish editor Eleanor O Callaghan and will be released in the US, the UK, Canada, Germany and France among others.

The Persian version of the book was shortlisted for the 22nd Islamic Republic of Iran Book of the Year Awards and won the Special Prize of the 16th International Festival of Village. It was later reprinted by Aamout Publishers several times

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