- Representation of Youth in the Young Adult Fiction of Farhad Hasanzadeh
Farhad Hasanzadeh1 is a renowned Iranian writer of children's and young adult (YA) literature who has published more than eighty books in the past thirty years. He has been awarded many prizes in Iran and was a shortlist candidate for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2020 and a candidate for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2017 and 2018. Hasanzadeh has introduced a variety of innovative forms and challenging themes in children's and YA literature. Young adults and their concerns play a prominent role in his work; hence, in this article, we analyze his portrayal of adolescence, youth, and adolescentadult confrontations within different social and political contexts.
Click for larger view
View full resolution
Hasanzadeh presents young adults in the contexts of abnormal situations and digs deep into their interactions with gender constructs, society, war, revolution, and peers. His young characters are usually exposed to and affected by different familial, social, and economic hardships and trauma, as they go through their adolescence during unusual circumstances. In all of Hasanzadeh's works for young adults, the focus is on the youth, their feelings and actions; psychological, behavioral, and physical characteristics are represented in his narration, which is sometimes intertwined with irony (Khodabin, Mirhosseini, and Abazari). His narrative techniques and use of irony have been discussed by critics of children's literature in Iran (Parsaee). His ability to engage with difficult subjects is also admired: "Hasanzadeh courageously presents challenging topics, addresses taboos, and moves beyond boundaries to artistically show the conditions of Iranian children and young adults. He manages to be creative rather than didactic, bold rather than meek, yet never loses hope" (Pourgiv 18). [End Page 48]
Multilayered Characteristics of Adolescents
The implied reader of Hasanzadeh's young adult fiction is brave, inquisitive, and exploring. The author focuses on dialogic relationships between teens and adults, and hence his fiction has two types of audience. The different layers of his text communicate with the adolescent but also attract the adult, especially when he places adolescent characters in the 1970s and '80s. He has portrayed various types of adolescents living in three distinct periods (the Islamic revolution in Iran; the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran; and the postwar, present period), exploring the place and development of young adults in Iranian society. Most of these realistically portrayed characters are from the lower classes and are exposed to harm. They do not have any grand aspirations other than to be accepted and to enjoy ordinary life; in most of Hasanzadeh's narratives, poverty, parental divorce, revolution, and war hinder these modest desires. His characters are ordinary young adults who are divested of basic rights and lack safety, education, life within a family, and proper food and clothing. Sometimes they are sexually and physically abused. This article discusses some aspects of Hasanzadeh's concerns about young adults in Iran.
Click for larger view
View full resolution
Rebels and Victims
Hasti, the female character in a novel of the same name by Hasanzadeh, is one of the most norm-breaking characters in Iranian YA literature. She is living in a traditional family in Khorramshahr and is in constant conflict with her father. Her family is forced to move to another city because of the war, and Hasti plays an important role in this move as she helps her father, riding a motorbike she borrows from her uncle. They move to a camp in south Iran and live in dire poverty. Hasti insists on returning the motorbike to her uncle, but her father ignores her, so she dresses in men's clothes and rides the bike back to Khorramshahr. Her father retreats from his previous harsh actions. He goes after her to Khorramshahr, accepting his daughter's identity and taking her back to the camp.
Hasti is one of the most colorful and carnivalesque characters ever created in Iranian YA literature. She challenges a restricting traditional society, her father being the hand of unwritten cultural laws. At the same instance, war, migration, and settling in a camp lead her to identity crisis with regard...