Simin Daneshvar, the prominent Iranian novelist and translator, passed away on the evening of March 8 at the age of 90, after being hospitalized for 10 days with influenza.
Daneshvar is considered modern Iran’s first female novelist and an icon in contemporary Persian literature.
She was born in Shiraz in 1921 and studied literature at Tehran University. One of the oldest members of the Iranian Association of Writers, she began her career writing articles for Radio Tehran and various newspapers. In 1948, she published Atashe Khamoosh (Quenched Fire), the first collection of short stories by an Iranian woman.
She travelled to the U.S. as a Fulbright Fellow to study creative writing at Stanford University, during which time she published two short stories in English.
Back in Iran, she taught at Iran’s College of Fine Arts and the University of Tehran, retiring in 1980 to dedicate herself to her writing.
Her novel Savushun, published in 1969, became a bestseller for decades, with 16 reprintings and translation into 17 languages.
In 1950, Daneshvar married another prominent Iranian writer, Jalal Al-Ahmad, and their only joint effort, a collection of stories and legends entitled Chehel Toti (Forty Parrots), was only recently published.
Daneshvar’s passing on International Women’s Day is an irony of history that encapsulates her iconic figure, providing even greater inspiration for the hundreds of female Iranian writers for whom she paved the way.