The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 78/No. 22      June 9, 2014

Participants at Tehran book fair
drawn to working-class politics
TEHRAN, Iran — The 27th Tehran International Book Fair, one of the largest in the Middle East, took place at the Mosalla praying grounds in the city center here April 30-May 10. Hundreds of thousands packed exhibition halls to check out books from some 1,300 Iranian publishers. Among the foreign publishers offering 132,000 different titles was Pathfinder Books from London, which sold 241 books and pamphlets in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

Twenty publishers and 40 booksellers participated from Afghanistan, this year’s country of honor. They exhibited on the mezzanine above the main hall for Iranian publishers. Farsi, the most widely spoken language in Iran, is also spoken in Afghanistan, the largest importer of Iranian books.

Large stands representing Turkey, Russia and Japan were present. A booth under the auspices of the ALBA trade alliance (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) featured books from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and other Latin American countries. Publishers in Arabic shared two international halls with distributors of books in English and French.

“I want this book by Nelson Mandela. He is one of my heroes because he fought against racism,” said a young man originally from Afghanistan who visited the Pathfinder Books stand and bought Nelson Mandela Speaks and Two Speeches by Malcolm X, whom he had not heard of before. “I am against all these divisions they create between people, including in my country.” The people of Afghanistan comprise a number of ethnicities, including Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek and several others.

Another customer who had travelled from Afghanistan with her family bought Pathfinder’s How Far We Slaves Have Come by Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro after finding out how Cuban volunteers in Angola had been decisive in defeating the invasion there by the racist army of apartheid South Africa.

Many students searched out books. Book fair organizers gave out 151,000 subsidized debit cards students could use at the fair.

A medical student came to the fair looking for books about medicine. She ended up buying Woman’s Evolution by Evelyn Reed, which provides a scientific explanation of how women came to be, and will cease being, “the second sex.” That book, published in Farsi in three volumes, was displayed at the stand in the Iranian section by the publisher Gôlazin, which has published several other Farsi editions of Pathfinder titles.

A student of Spanish was happy to find titles of interest in that language at the Pathfinder booth. She got three books, including Los cosméticos, las modas y la explotación de la mujer (Cosmetics, Fashions, and the Exploitation of Women).

A student of English literature asked for books that address “revolution today, such as in Egypt or Libya.” After browsing the Pathfinder titles he bought Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, Lenin’s Final Fight, Is Socialist Revolution in the U.S. Possible? and Che Guevara: Economics and Politics in the Transition to Socialism.

“I really liked the book I got here last year, Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power,” said one customer. “I liked how Malcolm X changed. He went through several stages, and developed all through his life.”

Three libraries bought books from Pathfinder.

Best-seller, with 20 copies sold, was the recently published I Will Die the Way I’ve Lived, which reprints 15 watercolors by Antonio Guerrero, one of five Cubans framed up and imprisoned by the U.S. government for monitoring plans by rightist groups in Florida with a record of armed attacks on Cuba. Other titles about this case accounted for another 19 copies. A total of 15 copies of The Working Class and the Transformation of Learning: The Fraud of Education Reform Under Capitalism were sold as well as eight copies of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power. All five copies of Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution were sold, as were a similar number of Art and Revolution by the same author.

Talaye Porsoo, which publishes Farsi translations of many Pathfinder books, displayed six new titles and sold more than 700 books. Feminism and the Marxist Movement by Mary-Alice Waters and Socialism and Man in Cuba by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro were top sellers with 58 and 55 copies respectively.  
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