Last night Quartet Books launched Beyond Black There Is No Colour, Maryam Diener’s wonderful exploration of the life of legendary Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad. At Thomas Heneage’s renowned bookshop, Chairman of Quartet Naim Attallah paid tribute to Maryam with the following speech:
Quartet are about to publish a third book written by an enchanting Iranian author who I have had the privilege to know since 2008 when I published her first novel, Without Saying Goodbye. Then she was Maryam Sachs, living as an exile between London, Paris and New York but dreaming of Tehran. A bitter-sweet tale of love and loss, it achieved some fine reviews but never received the exposure it deserved. Her second novel, The Passenger, was published in 2013 to receive the same fate – a few excellent reviews and what literary publishers term ‘respectable’ sales. Both books had much in common. An elegant, sophisticated prose sparsely spread over just a dozen pages more than 100 but with the acid clarity of Nabokov.
Maryam’s wanderings gave her time in Berlin where she helped create Éditions Moon Rainbow, a publishing house which specialised in limited edition art books presenting polylogues between poetry and the visual arts, including those with Marcel Broodthaers, Francesco Clemente and Bei Dao, Henri Michaux and Rosemarie Trockel, Christopher Le Brun and English poets, Enzo Cucchi and Italian poets, Jean Fautrier and Francis Ponge, Eugénie Paultre and Etel Adnan.
Now Maryam Diener, I’m thrilled to be publishing her imaginative fiction, Beyond Black There Is No Colour, inspired by the life of the Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad. Perhaps this book will break through the critical recognition and sales barrier. It tells the tale of one of the most iconic dissenting voices in modern Iranian history. Often referred to as Iran’s Sylvia Plath – for her highly original, confessional writing style as much as her battle with depression and tragic death – she went against the grain by challenging widely held conventions in a turbulent mid-century Iran.
Maryam Diener’s beautiful homage to a poet little known outside her much-troubled country will hopefully be given the reception it deserves.