Freedom to Read Week: from Iran to Regina

Nilofar Shidmehr is the current writer-in-residence at the Regina Public Library. She is celebrating Freedom to Read Week by reading from a book that was banned in Iran. The reading takes place tomorrow at the Central Public Library in Regina.

Regina Public Library's writer-in-residence to read from a book that is banned in Iran

Nilofar Shidmehr is the current writer in residence at the Regina Public Library. She will be reading from a book that is banned in Iran as part of Freedom to Read Week. ((Nichole Huck/CBC))

During Freedom to Read week, Nilofar Shidmehr, the current writer-in-residence at the Regina Public Library, will be celebrating a privilege she did not have in her native country of Iran .

She will be reading from a novel banned in Iran called Women without Men on Wednesday night at the Central Library.

Shidmehr says she shares many of the same viewpoints as the author and it's one of the many reasons that she chose the book for the reading. 

The book was written by Shahrnush Parsipur who was sent to jail in Iran for discussing gender relations in her writing. 

Women without Men was initially banned following Parsipur's incarceration and continues to be. The author has since moved to the U.S. 

"We have a ministry of culture and Islamic guidance which is responsible for restricting any form of expression including media and books," said Shidmehr.

"There is a censorship department in that ministry, so they monitor every book that is published."

The book deals with the theme of losing one's virginity.

"Virginity in Iran is a core value for women," said Shidmeher. "Writing in a way that challenges that is enough to send you to jail." 

Shidmehr says there have even been cases of writers going to jail simply for translating stories.

"I translated Toni Morrison's novel The Bluest Eye into Farsi. It was a collaboration with Ali Azarang and he was put in jail after I left Iran," said Shidmeher. "Basically they consider writers as enemies of the state."

You can register for the event at