TEHRAN, Iran — The 32nd Tehran International Book Fair took place at the large Mosalla mosque complex here April 24-May 4. Hundreds of thousands from around the country attended amid rising U.S. imperialist military threats, economic sanctions and a declining currency, which are squeezing living standards of working people and the middle classes.
The largest section housed some 2,400 Iranian publishers of Farsi titles. The international section, with around 800 publishers, displayed books in Arabic and English as well as other languages. This year’s country of honor was China.
Pathfinder Books from the United Kingdom, which has participated since 1992, sold more than 300 titles by revolutionary working-class leaders. Its best-seller was Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning Under Capitalism by Jack Barnes, national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party in the U.S., with 61 copies sold. Tribunes of the People and the Trade Unions, with an introduction by Barnes, and In Defense of the US Working Class by SWP leader Mary-Alice Waters were the newest titles on its shelves.
Fifty-three Pathfinder titles translated into Farsi, Iran’s most widely used language, were on display by Talaye Porsoo publishers, which sold over 700 books. Top sellers included The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (104 copies) and Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? (59 copies). Talaye Porsoo also featured two other books by Barnes: The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record and Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power.
A new title, Talaye Porsoo’s translation of In Defense of the US Working Class, was launched at a book-fair event hosted by the Association of Women Publishers. Other Iranian publishers displaying Farsi translations of Pathfinder titles included Golazin, which publishes Problems of Women’s Liberation and Woman’s Evolution, both by Evelyn Reed, as well as Cosmetics, Fashions, and the Exploitation of Women by Reed, Waters, and Joseph Hansen. Titles on the fight for women’s emancipation were popular at both the Talaye Porsoo and Pathfinder booths.
“I wish I could buy all these books,” said a student after browsing the Pathfinder shelves, “but I have to watch my pocket.” She left with Che Guevara and the Fight for Socialism Today, one of several titles on the Cuban Revolution sold here. A young woman from a rural area in north Iran bought Is Biology Woman’s Destiny? by Reed, Is Socialist Revolution in the US Possible? by Waters, and Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State by Engels. She said she’d been unable to pursue postgraduate studies abroad “because of the sanctions.”
Several visitors to the fair said they were interested in socialism or Marxism. Many asked if it was “legal” to sell these kinds of books in the U.S. and U.K. Volunteers at the booth responded by showing them photos in books of such titles being sold on the streets or at workers’ doorsteps.
The world capitalist crisis, and by early May the nearly three-quarters fall of the rial, the local currency, have made a big dent in the budgets of most Iranians, including fairgoers, since Washington reimposed sanctions last year. One student came to the Pathfinder stand carrying a bag of books he’d bought with the “Bon” card, a government subsidy for students. “Last year,” he said, “I was able to fill up three bags.”