On 20 June 2009, during demonstrations to protest the fraudulent Iranian presidential election, a young girl called Neda was shot to death in the streets of Tehran. Within hours, the video footage of Neda’s death, fortuitously captured on a roving camera-phone, had circled the globe. Outside the country, the incident was a nine-day wonder; in Iran it changed the course of politics for a new generation.
The Gaze of the Gazelle (Italian version)
It was also the moment of choice for the young doctor who had tried and failed to save her. Within days he had left Iran to tell the world the story the government was denying: Neda had died at the hands of the pro-government militia. After this, any chance of returning home was gone; Arash Hejazi, author and publisher himself became a target.
But as Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist, writes in the introduction to his friend’s book: ‘Arash’s story is not summarised in that moment; now he has to tell the story of that generation.’ The Gaze of the Gazelle is that story: The memoirs and autobiography of Arash Hejazi on one hand, and the biography of the generation that was raised under the Islamic Republic of Iran on the other.
The Gaze of the Gazelle (German version)
In a tale that mingles politics and the personal, mythology and history, he tries to answer the question ‘How did it come to this?’ His quest for an answer tells the story of the years since the Iranian Revolution brought Ayatollah Khomeini back from exile to drive the Shah from his peacock throne and set up the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Against the background of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran and the prolonged and dirty war that followed, the author of this autobiography skilfully interweaves his own story and that of his family and friends with the machinations of mullahs and the manoeuvres of politicians who seek to control their lives. The joy of revolution turns to the sorrow of loss: of friends and family at the front and in the prisons of the regime, of hope in the future. And of the determination of a new generation to recover that hope in the name of Neda, who gave her life in pursuit of a freer and better world.
The Gaze of the Gazelle (English version)
This ‘important and life-affirming memoir,’ as Paulo Coelho says, is a must read for all who share that dream and seek to discover a country beyond the headlines and the hysteria that surrounds the Iranian bomb.
The Gaze of the Gazelle has been released in English, German and Italian.
About Arash Hejazi
Arash Hejazi is an Iranian editor, novel writer, journalist and physician. Born in 1971, Tehran, Iran, son of a university professor and a teacher, he graduated from medical school in 1996 and in 1997, co-founded an independent publishing house named Caravan Books in Tehran, where he was the editorial director until 2009, when he was forced to leave Iran. He has also been the Editor-in-Chief at two literary and cultural magazines; Kamyaab (2000-2003) and BookFiesta (2003-2008). The latter was closed down by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance of Iran in 2008, as a result of publishing a short story by the Italian writer Primo Levi. He is a member of the Tehran Union of Publishers and Booksellers (TUPB) and was the Managing Editor of its journal, Sanat-e-Nashr(Publishing Industry), from 2006 to 2007. He was one of the nominees to receive the Freedom to Publish Prize held by International Publishers' Association (IPA) in 2006 (visit Arash Hejazi's website and blog here).
He is also a novel writer, whose most known novel The Princess of the Land of Eternity (2003) was shortlisted for two major Iranian literary prizes and has sold more than 20,000 copies in Iran since its first publication in 2003.
He has two other novels: The Grief of the Moon (1994) and Kaykhusro (2009). His memoirs and autobiography, The Gaze of the Gazelle, was published in three languages (English, Italian and German) 2011.
In 2009, in the post-election protests in Iran he witnessed the shooting of a young girl called Neda Agha Soltan in the street and tried to help her, and then bore witness to the circumstances of her death in an interview with the international media. An event that has turned his life upside-down, as he had to leave his country because of his testament, his business was shut down in Iran, his books were banned, he was prosecuted and his family persecuted.
But he feels no regrets. He believes that writing his memoir, virtually the biography of his generation, has helped him to be healed.
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