Sadeq Chubak


CHUBAK, Sadeq (Ṣādeq Čubak, b. Bušehr, 5 August 1916; d. Berkeley, Calif., 3 July 1998), one of most acclaimed Persian short story writers and novelists of the 20th century (FIGURE 1).

His father Hāj Esmāʿil was an affluent merchant, trading primarily with India and Great Britain. Chubak completed his elementary education in Bušehr and Shiraz, and his secondary education at the American College in Tehran, where he learned the English language. In 1937, he was hired by the Ministry of Education and taught at the Šerāfat School in Ḵorramšahr. In 1938, Chubak was drafted into military service and, following basic training, he spent the rest of his time in the military as an English-language translator at the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces in Tehran. Following his military service, he was first employed in 1940 as a cashier in the Ministry of Finance and later as an interpreter for the American economic advisors who had come to Iran. After World War II, Chubak taught English for a few years in various language institutes and schools, and also worked as a translator at the Information Department of the British Embassy in Tehran for two years. From 1949, he was employed by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, and after the nationalization of oil industries in 1951 continued working for the National Iranian Oil Company as its head librarian until 1974, when he retired. Chubak spent a few years of his early retirement in England and in 1979 moved to the United States, where he lived to the end of his life in El Cerrito, near Berkeley, California.

Sadeq Chubak’s fame as a writer began with the publication of Ḵeyma-šab-bāzi (The Puppet Show, 1945), a collection of eleven short stories, which provoked a mixed reception. It was praised for its accurate portrayal of the more lurid and unpleasant aspects of life in Iran (Barāheni, pp. 560-3), which exhibits the author’s descriptive power and controlled technique (Yarshater, p. 54), and harshly criticized for its “pestilential naturalism” (Parhām, p. 46), and for the failure of the author to present a true picture of the Iranian society (Dastḡeyb, p. 10).

The stories are marked by the author’s choice of characters from among the lowest strata of society, his meticulous reproduction of colloquial Persian, and his accurate description of the scenes, actions, and behavior of characters. Background details are kept to a minimum, and we rarely hear a moralizing voice to interpret what we see (Miller Mostaghel, p. 312). “Nafti” (tr. by Carter Bryant as “The Kerosene Man,” 1976), the first story in The Puppet Show, foreshadows many of the elements that Chubak uses in his later short stories and novels. The story unfolds when a young woman, Oḏrā, is praying for a husband in a holy shrine. Her dreams of finding a husband, end in disappointment, however, when in the final scene of the story she tries, unsuccessfully, to interest a kerosene peddler to marry her, in addition to the three wives he already has. Chubak’s portrayal of Oḏrā, as an ordinary woman with sexual desires and needs whose religious performance at the shrine is transformed into an expression of her lustful desire for the holy man buried in the tomb, stood in sharp contrast with the typical image of women in Persian fiction, almost always a young innocent girl in pain with a romantic love. As observed by a critic, the sexual passion displayed in the portrayal of Oḏrā forces the reader to look at those human desires and drives that we tend to disregard and deny. (Ferdowsi, pp. 175-6). Social outcasts in general predominate most of Chubak’s stories. “Golhā-ye gušti” (tr. by John Limbert as “Flesh Flowers,” 1968), concerns the empty, wasted life of an opium addict, Morād, to whom nothing matters but the demands of his addiction. He is attracted to a woman as she walks down the street because the flowers on her dress seem to him to be opium poppies, his need for opium momentarily changing into lust for the woman. When a creditor attempts to catch him and is struck by a truck, Morād is merely relieved. The sight of the victim’s body affects his yearnings for the woman; this time the smell of her perfume only reminds him of the repulsive scene he has just witnessed.

Parviz Nātel Ḵānlari was among the first critics who described the sketch-like pieces of this collection, such as “ʿAdl” (tr. by H. D. Law as “Inquest,” 1949, and also by John Limbert as “Justice,” 1968), as reminiscent to snapshots that capture events and characters directly, unmediated by excessive descriptions (Ḵānlari, p. 913). In these sketches, more visible in “Justice” than in other stories of the collection, Chubak succeeds in functioning like a camera outside the story, removing the narrator-author almost totally from the scene. “Justice” begins with a vivid picture of a horse with a broken leg and continues with a realistic reproduction of the comments the onlookers exchange on the fate of the animal. Despite Chubak’s vivid portrayal of the injured animal, it is the experimentation with the techniques of fiction writing, and not the theme of justice, that seems to be his primary concern.

“Zir-e čerāḡ-e qermez” (Under the Red Light) revolves around the thoughts and conversations of two prostitutes over the dead body of a third. Mirʿābedini, a critic, considers the story as the most distinctive example of Chubak’s “naturalistic approach to life” (p. 163). Another story in the collectionis “Āḵer-e šab” (Late Night), a short pictorial sketch with no other obvious purpose but to show the mechanical movements of a few characters. It begins with the arrival of two customers to a bar to get a bottle of liquor, and it ends when the older customer offers the bottle to the younger, who, without any apparent reason and without even taking the bottle, passes out on the floor. The brevity and simplicity of the “story,” with apparently no plot or action, is reminiscent of the work of a sketch artist who renders his subject matter with a few calculated strokes. “Late Night,” with regard to Chubak’s choice of title for the collection, seems like the puppet show movements of two characters.

In “Mardi dar qafas” (A Man in a Cage), a longer piece in the collection, Sayyed Ḥasan Khan is the sole survivor of a prominent wealthy family, who has lost all his relatives, his young wife, and one of his legs. The losses, in turn, have caused him to lose his desire to live. He retreats to seclusion, drinking and smoking opium. Sayyed Ḥasan Khan’s dog, Rāsu, not only shares her master’s isolated life but also is addicted to the fumes of his opium. Rāsu’s friendship, like everything else in Sayyed Ḥasan khan’s life, comes to an end when the mating season approaches. Sayyed Ḥasan Khan, scared to lose the dog’s company, decides to act as a merchant of love. He manages, with a great deal of physical effort, to go to the garden gate and let in one of the street dogs that has been barking in a frenzy behind the garden gate. At dawn the next morning, we find Sayyed Ḥasan Khan’s crouched up corpse behind the garden gate, with Rāsu and a stray dog mating shamelessly nearby. “Pirāhan-e zereški” (The Maroon Dress) is another story in the collection in which the pettiness and gruesomeness of human life is highly dramatized. The colorful discussion between the two women laced with foul language is reminiscent of scenes from Sadeq Hedayats ʿAlaviya ḵānom (Dorri, p. 322) Chubak’s preoccupation with the poor is particularly evident in his portrayal of children as the innocent victims of society. A telling example is Aṣḡar, the protagonist of “Baʿd az żohr-e āḵer-e pāʾiz,” (tr. by Carter Bryant as “An Afternoon in Late Autumn,” 1982), in which a third-grade pupil from a poor family painfully compares himself with other pupils, especially a handsome boy from a rich family who enjoys a life of comfort, which Aṣḡar can only envy. Similarly, in “Yaḥyā” (tr. by H. D. Law as “Yahya,” 1949), Chubak presents the dilemma of an eleven-year-old newspaper boy in facing the changing society in Iran in the first half of the 20th century. The puppet-show character of the last story in the collection, “Esāʾa-ye adab” (Insolence), is a megalomaniac pitiable king who, offended by a crow defecating on his statue, declares war on crows and orders his army to kill all the crows in his kingdom. In memory of these events, the crows began to wear black outfits ever since, and their voices became hoarse from their constant crying and mourning. The direct allegorical references in the story, written in the archaic prose style of the chronicles of kings, to the ruling monarch might have contributed to its substitution in the third printing of The Puppet Show (1967) by a poem called “Āh-e ensān (tr. by Carter Bryant and Leonard Bogle, as “The Sigh of Mankind,” 1976), a semi-autobiographical poem directed not against a particular ruler but against all those who rule the world and offer nothing but misery and pain.

Chubak’s preoccupation with the outcasts of the society and depiction of the sordid and grim scenes and moments of their lives is equally visible in his second collection of short stories, Antar-i ke luṭi-aš morda bud (1949), which includes three stories and a one-act play. In the title story of the collection (tr. by Peter Avery, as “The Baboon Whose Buffoon Was Dead,” 1957), Chubak addresses such concepts as freedom and the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed from the perspective of a domesticated primate. With the death of his master, the baboon succeeds to pull out of the ground the spike that secures the chain around his neck and runs away. The chain, however, remains around his neck, as if a part of him and eventually forces him to return to captivity. The story was praised for the author’s psychological probing of human nature in terms of fear, need and dependency (Ṣanʿati, pp. 162-7), and as a metaphoric depiction of the deeply rooted social relations in Iran (Fujei, pp. 263-5). Similarly, in “Qafas” (tr. by V. Kubičková and I. Lewit, as “Cage,” 1965), Chubak portrays the life of a group of chickens living in squalor and filth in the cage of a street vendor. Death, which appears once in a while in the form of a hand that snatches one of them to meet its destiny, is the chickens’ only way out of the cage. The story, as observed by a critic, is Chubak’s allegorical depiction of human fate in a world permeated with war, destruction, and cruelty (Soleymāni, pp. 259-60). In “Čerā daryā tufāni šoda bud” (Why Was the Sea Stormy), a love story of sorts between a truck driver and a prostitute, Chubak dramatizes a commonly held belief in Southern Iran, and a recurrent motif in his stories, that the act of throwing an illegitimate child into the sea turns the sea stormy. Chubak’s mastery in capturing the thought processes of the characters and their conversation has led some critics to appreciate “Čerā daryā tufāni šoda bud” as Chubak’s best short story (Barāheni, p. 590; Mirʿābedini, p. 165).

From 1950 to 1962, during the oil nationalization movement and its ensuing turmoil, Chubak went through a period of literary silence. His most significant literary activity consisted of the translation of several works by European and American writers from English, including Eugene O’Neill’s (1888-1953) one-act play Before Breakfast (Piš az nāštāʾi, 1945), Arthur Schnitzler’s (1862-1931) “Liebelei” (“Sargoḏašt,” 1946), Carlo Collodi’s (1826-1890) Pinocchio (Pinocchio, Ādamak-e čubi, 1955), and Edgar Allen Poe’s 91809-1849) “The Raven” (“Ḡorāb,” 1960). Sadeq Chubak’s first novel, Tangsir (tr. by Marżia Samiʿi and F. R. C. Bagley, as One Man and His Gun, 1978), was published in 1963. Based on an actual event that took place during the author’s childhood in Bušehr and was previously depicted in a short story by Rasul Parvizi (1919-77) in Šalvārhā-ye vaṣledār (Tattered Trousers, 1957), the novel tells the story of a rural worker who has been swindled out of his hard-earned savings by four prominent individuals in the city. Failing to gain legal redress, he decides to take the law into his own hands, and after killing the four oppressors he flees by a boat with his wife and child. The publication of Tangsir, a romantic novel of heroic bent, as opposed to Chubak’s earlier naturalistic short stories, was a turning point in his literary career (Hillmann, 1976, p. 71). Although praised by some critics for its narrative technique, language, and structure (Ṭabari, pp. 313-16; Yusofi, pp. 465-74), and as an historical document of “the life of the people which is as black as the night” (Barāheni, p. 670), the novel initially received negative reviews in terms of its subject matter. The engagé critics criticized the novel for its failure to document the life of the oppressed classes, and for its depiction of an ordinary man as “an unrealistic champion,” similar to the fist-fighting characters of Hollywood films (Dastḡeyb, p. 24; Tina, pp. 345-56; Kiānuš, p. 189). Later, however, it gained widespread praise as a lasting work of fiction (Ḵorrami, pp. 283-91), and was made into a movie, directed by Amir Nāderi, the noted Persian filmmaker, with Behruz Voṯuqi as the gunman (1974).

Two years after the publication of Tangsir, Chubak published two new collections of short stories, Ruz-e avval-e qabr (The First Day in the Grave, 1965), and Čerāḡ-e āḵer (The Last Alms, 1966). The stories in Ruz-e avval-e qabr generally focus on the seamier side of life and the depiction of characters from the unfortunate classes. The first story in the collection, “Gurkanhā” (tr. by John R. Perry, as “The Grave Diggers,” 1991) is set in a small village, and revolves around the calamities that befall upon the village by the birth of an illegitimate child (Ferdowsi, pp. 189-90; Dastḡeyb, p. 59). The next story, “Čašm-e šiša-i” (tr. by Babak Chubak, as “The Glass Eye,” 1978), is a psychological portrayal of a young boy who has lost one eye. “Dasta-gol” (The Flower Bouquet), is a story of obsession and revenge. The protagonist of the story, a small man, limping and dragging one leg, reminiscent of characters in the stories of Victor Hugo and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, among others, is obsessed with settling scores with his cruel oppressive boss. In contrast to Hugo and Dostoyevsky, however, Chubak does not opt for a detailed account of the life of his character, and instead, provides the reader with a number of long letters that he writes to his boss. The story is praised by a critic as a didactic masterpiece in celebration of the painful struggle of a crippled powerless man against oppressive authorities (Ebrāhimpur, pp. 398-405). Similarly, “Pāča ḵizak” (Fireworks), regarded as one of Chubak’s best short stories (Barāheni, pp. 621-3; Dastḡeyb, pp. 443-4), is a psychological sketch in the vein of “Yaḥyā” and “ʿAdl”. The title story of this collection (tr. by M. Southgate as “The First Day in the Grave,” 1980), influenced by Sadeq Hedayat’s novel Hāji Āqā (Mirʿābedini, p. 473), revolves around the life of a rich man in his old age who reviews his chaotic past, his sexual escapades and other criminal acts, and talks to God for the first time in his life, trying to secure a place for himself in Paradise. Given that there is nothing innovative either in terms of theme and concept or narrative style in this story, its inclusion in the collection as the title story may be Chubak’s tribute to his mentor, Sadeq Hedayat.

“Hamrāh” (Companion) and “Hamrāh: šiva-i digar” (Companion: another mode) are two short stories that share a similar plotline. In both, two hungry wolves descend down a snowy mountain slope in a severe winter in search of prey. In both, one of the two wolves succumbs to hunger and exhaustion and is devoured by the other. “Companion,” is written in an epideictic style and includes no conversation. “Companion: another mode” is narrated in the usual style of epidictic tales. It consists mainly of dialogues, and ends with a meta-narrative “moral conclusion.” The killing in the former is swift and heroic. But it is prolonged and made torturous by the moral discourse of the surviving wolf in the latter. The juxtaposition serves to foreground the role of language, and metonymically culture, as an elaborate, and ultimately brutalizing, system of cover up of natural instincts, not more than a series of linked strategies for concealment (Ferdowsi, pp. 175-184).

In “ʿArusak-e foruši,” (A Doll for Sale), Chubak once again focuses on the plight of poor children and in “Yek šab-e biḵābi” (A Sleepless Night), he describes the anxieties of a middle-aged bachelor about his life and mortality after having seen a dog run over and killed by a car. The title story of the other collection, Čerāḡ-e āḵer (tr. by G. L. Tikku, as “The Last Offering,” 1978), entails the efforts of a young intellectual who feels he must protect the people from a religious performer and storyteller, and tries, unsuccessfully, to destroy the performer’s story-telling canvas screen. “Dozd-e qālpāq” (tr. by F.R.C. Bagley, as “The Hub Cap Thief,” 1978), is the story of a young boy who is caught stealing a hub cap. Similar to “Justice,” the rest of the story consists of comments exchanged between the people surrounding the boy. One critic observes that in this and similar stories, “in his examination of slices of human life, Chubak has the ability and the power of vision of a camera that has ‘zoomed’ on images, and his use of the technique of short sentences also is reminiscent of the effect of black and white film” (Chelkowski, pp. 43-7). He further states that the colloquial yet poetical language employed in the story would be better appreciated if read aloud.

A similar sketch is “Kaftarbāz”(Pigeon Fancier), which is regarded as reminiscent of “Dāš ākol,” another well-known short story by Sadeq Hedayat (Sepānlu, pp. 505-15). While flying his pigeons, a street-smart pigeon fancier sees a young woman and falls in love with her. “ʿOmarkošun” (Omar Killing), omitted from the latest edition of The Last Alms published in the United States in 1990, contains humorous sketches of the ritual of burning the effigy of the second caliph, ʿOmar b. Ḵaṭṭāb (r. 634-44), an oft-maligned personage in Shiʿite lore and rituals. “Bačča gorba-i ke čašmānaš bāz našoda bud” (The Kitten Whose Eyes Had Not Opened) is, once again, a mere exercise in sketch-like description of an ordinary scene. “Asb-e čubi” (tr. by V. Kubičková and I. Lewit, as “The Wooden Horse,” 1965; also by John R. Perry, 1991), arguably the best short story in the collection, is told from the perspective of a young French woman whose Iranian husband, after six years of marriage and living in Iran for three years, marries a cousin. She leaves Iran, determined to keep her son from ever knowing the identity of his father. “Doust” (Friend), the final story in the collection, is in a sense the reverse side of “The Wooden Horse,” in which the narrator is betrayed by his French wife. In “Ātmā, sag-e man” (Atma, My Dog), a longer piece in this collection, in which reality and fantasy smoothly blend, a dog is the symbolic representation of the guilt-ridden conscience of a retired lonely man who has committed many crimes during his life. “Rahāvard” (Gift), the story of an old warrior who returns home after many victories, is written in modern verse, while “Parizād o Parimān” (Parizad and Pariman) is probably an allegorized depiction of the rise and fall of the popular government of Moḥammad Moṣaddeq in the early 1950s (see COUP D’ETAT OF 1332 Š./1953). With the exception of “The Wooden Horse,” the stories in The Last Alms, as well as most of the stories in The First Day in the Grave, seem as if Chubak was going through the routine of writing short stories, a genre for which he was noted.

In 1966, Chubak published Sang-e ṣabur  (tr. by M. R. Ghanoonparvar, as The Patient Stone, 1989), which gets its title from a widely known folk tale of the same name, published by Sadeq Hedayat in Majalla-ye musiqi (The Journal of Music, 1941). Innovative and sophisticated in terms of structure and technique, this stream-of-consciousness novel is written in the form of monologues or “soliloquies” of five characters and in this respect is reminiscent of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Through these monologues, Chubak tells the story of a group of disenfranchised individuals in the city of Shiraz in the 1930s. Partly based on a true story, as was Tangsir, the events in this novel are related to a mad serial killer’s murdering of a number of prostitutes. The structure of the novel and the recitation of the same events by different characters is also compared with Faulkner’s Sound and Fury, where one chapter is juxtaposed with the other which follows it and shades it (Dorri, p. 327-8). Many critics as well as the author himself have regarded The Patient Stone as Chubak’s magnum opus in that it is not only a culmination of his entire literary output and displays many of the characteristics of his earlier work, such as his choice of characters mostly from among the lower classes or lonely and isolated individuals in society, but also because of his bold experimentation with narrative voice, authorial absence from the story, narrative technique, structure, precise diction, and generally haunting, unmediated portrayal of characters, scenes, and events (for a detailed critical study of the novel, see SANG-E ṢABUR).

Chubak is one of the pioneers of rural and regional themes in Persian literature, and considered — along with Aḥmad Maḥmud, Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Sāʿedi, Maḥmud Eʿtemādzada (Behāḏin), Ebrāhim Golestān, and Maḥmud Dowlatābādi — among the most prominent. Many of his fictional works are set in the southern provinces, in particular in the Persian Gulf region. Drawing frequently on childhood memories and experiences, Chubak’s fictions leave little room for the joyous aspects of life in the region, and instead, are inhabited by displaced persons who, because of an accident of history and geography, are trapped in the dead-end of tradition, and are gripped by dire need. An important contribution of Chubak to the art of Persian fiction is his painstakingly accurate reproduction of regional dialects and colloquial speech. Some attempts had been made earlier by a few of Chubak’s predecessors, such as Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh (Moḥammad ʿAli Jamālzāda) and Sadeq Hedayat, to reproduce regional dialects and to transcribe the Persian spoken by ordinary people (Zavarzadeh, p. 150; Bahārloo, pp. 109-11). Chubak not only succeeded in transcribing the words as pronounced in spoken language, but, more importantly, he paid attention to the syntax of colloquial speech in the utterances of his characters. He was the first writer of his generation to use the full potential of the dialogue as a narrative technique. Chubak’s readers come face to face not only with vagrants, pigeon-fanciers, corpse-washers, prostitutes, and opium addicts, whom he portrays with vividness and force, but also with human needs and desires and, above all, with words and phrases that rarely appear in the fiction of his predecessors. Although Chubak’s influence on a number of the writers of following generations is readily discernible, he remains unsurpassed in his technique of precise transcription of the spoken Persian. He was able to accomplish for Persian what Mark Twain had achieved earlier in recording rural American speech.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Chubak challenged the period’s popular myth that the poor are honorable and good by virtue of being poor, and thereby implicitly criticized the social system for having failed to provide a better life for its less fortunate citizens. An aspect of Chubak’s work that often has displeased traditional and conservative critics is his realistic portrayal of women, particularly in terms of sexuality and sexual relations, a subject that was considered taboo and was generally avoided by other contemporary writers. In a similar vein, Chubak’s critics strongly condemned him for what they called his use of ‘obscene’ language.

In addition to writing fiction, Chubak published two plays and a poem, all of which were included in his short story collections. His first play, Tup-e lāstiki (tr. by F.R.C. Bagley, as “The Rubber Ball,” 1978), regarded by a critic as a “dark satire”(ʿEnāyat, p. 238), deals with the uncertainty of the period’s political climate, burdened by suspicion and fear. While this play, written in the 1940s, is reflective of the political climate during the reign of Reżā Shah, Chubak’s second play, Hafḵaṭ (tr. by S. Aghdami, J. Bloxsome, and C. Hodge, as “Sly,” 1989) from Antar-i ke luṭi-aš morda bud, is set in the 1960s, a period of rapid industrialization and mass migration form rural areas to major cities. The main character of the play is a young villager who has come to Tehran in search of a better life. Infatuated with the glitters of city life represented by an urbanized girl, however, he ends up in jail. Both plays have been staged in Iran and other countries (Author: please provide the name of the directors, and the date). Chubak’s free verse poem, “Āh-e ensān,” is described by a critic as “an expression of the suffering of all humans in the past, present, and future,” (Hešmat Moʿayyad, pp. 317-23). It is generally considered reflective of the author’s childhood years and the turbulent climate of the first decades of 20th century Iran. Even though it presents a grim picture of human life, it also has an undertone of optimism and hope for a brighter future. Chubak’s works have been translated into many languages including English, German, Russian, and Japanese (see below).

Although Chubak avoided publicity, very rarely agreed to interviews, and generally declined public speaking invitations, on a few occasions he participated in seminars and conferences outside Iran. He took part in a seminar at Harvard University conducted by Henry Kissinger in 1955; visited Moscow, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Tajikistan on the invitation of the Soviet Writers’ Union in 1965; taught at the University of Utah as a visiting professor during the 1971-1972 academic year; and attended a conference of Asian and African writers in Kazakhstan in 1974. In the final years of his life, he had almost totally lost his sight to macular degeneration and did not publish any original work. Throughout his retirement, the only work that he published was Mahpāra (1991), the Persian translation of A Digit of the Moon, a supposedly nineteenth-century English translation of a Sanskrit fable by Francis William Bain (1863-1940). Even though Bain later admitted that the book was not a translation but his own fabricated imitation of the Kathasaritsagara, a fact of which Chubak seemed unaware, he has received unanimous praise for his masterful use of language and prose style in Mahpāra by critics and readers alike (Maḥjub, pp. 912-14; Gowharin, pp.331-5 and 475-81). Chubak was also an avid photographer throughout his life, often capturing moments similar to those in his sketch-like short stories. In his later years, Chubak also continued the writing of his unpublished memoirs, which, according to a critic, he burned, along with his photographs, during his final days (Ḵosrowšāhi, pp. 491-7). In 1937, Chubak married Ghodsi (b. 1917-) one of his classmates in the American College. They had two sons; Roozbeh (1944), and Bābak (1947). After his death, his library and other papers were donated to the University of Virginia.


Selected Works.

Short Story Collections:

A. Ḵeyma-šab-bāzi (The Puppet Show, Tehran, 1945) contains the following stories:

“ʿAdl,” tr. by John Limbert, as “Justice,” Iranian Studies 1,1968, pp. 113-21; and also as “Inquest,” by H. D. Law, 1949.

“Āḵer-e šab” (Late Night).

“Baʿd az ẓohr-e āḵer-e pāʾiz,” tr. by C. Bryant, as “An Afternoon in Late Autumn,” Iranian Studies 15, 1982, pp. 69-79.

“Esāʾa-ye adab” (Insolence).

“Golhā-ye gušti,” tr. by John Limbert, as “The Flowers of Flesh,” Iranian Studies 1, 1968, pp. 113-21.

“Mardi dar qafas” (A Man in a Cage).

“Musiyu Eliās,” tr. by W. Hanaway Jr., as “Monsieur Elyas,” Literary Review 18/1, Fall 1974, pp. 61-8; revised, 1978, in Sadeq Chubak: An Anthology (Modern Persian Literature Series, No. 3), ed., F.R.C. Bagley, Colorado, 1982.

“Pirāhan-e zereški” (The Maroon Dress) “Nafti,” tr. by Carter Bryant and Leonard Bogle, as “The Kerosene Man,” Literature East and West 20, 1976, pp. 71-78.

“Yaḥyā,” tr. by H. D. Law, as “Yahya,” 1949.

“Zir-e čerāḡ-e qermez” (Under the Red Light).

B. Antar-i ke luṭi-aš morda bud (The Baboon Whose Buffoon Was Dead, Tehran, 1949):

“Antar-i ke luṭi-aš morda bud, tr. by Peter Avery, as “The Baboon Whose Buffoon Was Dead,” New World Writing 11, May 1957, pp. 228-32.

“Asb-e čubi,” tr. by V. Kubičková and I. Lewit, as “The Wooden Horse,” KroutilovaNew Orient 4-5, 1965, pp. 148-52; also by John R. Perry, in Stories From Iran: A Chicago Anthology (1921-1991), ed., Mansur Heshmat Moayyad, 1991, pp. 101-10.

“Čerā daryā ṭufāni šoda bud,” (Why Was the Sea Stormy).

“Qafas,” tr. by V. Kubičková and I. Lewit, as “The Cage,” KroutilovaNew Orient 4-5, 1965, pp. 148-52.

C. Ruz-e avval-e qabr (The First Day in the Grave, Tehran, 1965):

“ʿArusak-e foruši,” (A Doll for Sale).

“Čašm-e šiša-i,” tr. by Babak Chubak, as “The Glass Eye,” Sadeq Chubak: An Anthology (Modern Persian Literature Series, No. 3), ed., F.R.C. Bagley, Colorado, 1982.

“Dasta-gol” (The Flower Bouquet).

“Gurkanhā,” tr. by John R. Perry, as “The Grave Diggers,” in Stories From Iran: A Chicago Anthology (1921-1991), ed., Mansur Heshmat Moayyad, 1991, pp. 111-20.

“Hamrāh” (Companion).

“Pāča ḵizak” (Fireworks). “Ruz-e avval-e qabr,” tr. by Minoo Southgate as “The First Day in the Grave,” in Modern Persian Short Stories, ed., Minoo Southgate, Washington D.C., 1980, pp. 114-34.

“Yek čiz-e ḵākestari” (A Grey Thing).

“Yek šab-e biḵᵛābi” (A Sleepless Night).

D. Čerāḡ-e Āḵer (The Last Alms, Tehran, 1966): “Ātmā, sag-e man,” (Atma, My Dog).

“Bačča gorba-i ke čašmānaš bāz našoda bud,” (The Kitten Whose Eyes Had Not Opened).

“Čerāḡ-e Āḵer,” tr. by G. L. Tikku as “The Last Offering,” in Sadeq Chubak: An Anthology (Modern Persian Literature Series, No. 3), ed., F.R.C. Bagley, Colorado, 1982.

“Dozd-e qālpāq,” tr. by F.R.C. Bagley as “The Hub Cap Thief,” in Sadeq Chubak: An Anthology (Modern Persian Literature Series, No. 3), ed., F.R.C. Bagley, Colorado, 1982.

“Doust” (Friend).

“Kaftarbāz” (Pigeon Flyer).

“ʿOmarkošun” (Omar Killing).

“Parizād va parimān” (Parizad and Pariman).

“Rahāvard” (Souvenir).


Tangsir (1963), tr. by F. R. C. Bagley and Marżia Samiʿi, as “One Man and His Gun,” in Sadeq Chubak: An Anthology, Delmar, N.Y., 1982, pp. 13-181.

Sang-e ṣabur (1966), tr. by M. R. Ghanoonparvar, as The Patient Stone, Calif., 1989.


“Tup-e lāstiki” (Antar-i ke luṭi-aš morda bud), tr. by F.R.C. Bagley, as “The Rubber Ball,” in Sadeq Chubak: An Anthology (Modern Persian Literature Series, No. 3), ed., F.R.C. Bagley, Colorado, 1982.

“Hafḵaṭ” (Čerāḡ-e āḵer), tr. by S. Aghdami, J. Bloxsome, and C. Hodge, as “Sly,” in Iranian Drama: An Anthology, ed., M. R Ghanoonparvar and John Green, Calif., 1989.


“Āh-e ensān” (third edition of Ḵeyma šab-bāzi), tr., Carter Bryant and Leonard Bogle, as “The Sigh of Mankind,” Literature East and West 20, 1976, pp. 71-8.

The Russian translation of “Nafti,” by S. Komissarov and Z. N. Osmanova appeared in The Fruit of Misfortune: A Modern Persian Novella, Moscow, 1960; “ʿOmarkošun” and “Asb-e čubi,” by idem, in The Night It Snowed, Moscow, 1964; and Tangsir, by idem, Moscow, 1966.

“Antari keh luṭi-aš morda bud,” is translated into German by Touradj Rahnema, as Der Pavian, dessen Herr gestorben war, Berlin 1983, and “Mardi dar qafas,” by Rudolf Gelpke as Der Aristokrat und das Tier, Novelle aus-dem heutigen Persien mit acht Zeichnungen, Switzerland 1961.

Chubak’s works are also translated into several other languages, including Japanese.


Reżā Barāheni, Qeṣṣanevisi (Story Writing), Tehran, 1969, pp. 548-713.

Peter Chelkowski, “Ṣādeq Čubak va dāstān-e kutāh-e Fārsi” (Sadeq Chubak and the Persian Short Story), in ʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 43-7.

ʿAbd al-ʿAli Dastḡeyb, Naqd-e āṯār-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 1973.

Idem, “Dāstān nevisi-e Ṣādeq Čubak,” in ʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 442-3.

ʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak (In the Memory of Sadeq Chubak), Tehran, 2001.

Jahāngir Dorri, “Ṭanz dar āṯār-eČubak” in ʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, p. 68-78.

Idem, “The Satire of Sadeq Chubak,” in Thomas M. Ricks, ed., Critical Perspectives on Modern Persian Literature, Washington, D.C., 1984, pp.321-30.

F. Ebrahimpur, “Naqd o barrasi-e dāstāni az Čubak” (On one of Chubak’s Stories), in ʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 398-405.

Maḥmud ʿEnāyat, “Tanhāi-e Ṣādeq Čubak” (Chubak’s Solitude), in ʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, p. 238.

Mohammad Reza Ghanoonparvar, In a Persian Mirror: Images of the West and Westerners in Iranian Fiction, Austin, 1993, pp. 97-8.

Idem, Prophets of Doom: Literature as a Socio-Political Phenomenon in Modern Iran, Lanham, pp. 60-3, 80-3, 112-5.

Idem, Reading Chubak, Calif., 2005.

ʿAli Ferdowsi, “Jāmeʿa šenāsi-e ḵayr o šarr dar qeṣṣahā-yeṢādeq Čubak,” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 175-6.

Morio Fujei , “Arzešyābi-e ‘Antari ke lutiyaš morda bud’,” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 263-5.

Kāva Gowharin, “Mahpāra-i az naṯr” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp.331-5 and 475-81.

Manṣur Hešmat Moʿayyad, “Negāhi be ‘Āh-e ensān’,” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 317-23.

Parviz Nātel Ḵānlari, “Ḵeyma-šab-bāzi,” Soḵan 11-12, December 1945-January 1946, p. 913.

ʿAli Akbar Kasmāʾi, Nevisandegān-e pišgām dar dāstān nevisi-e emruz-e Irān (Pioneers of Contemporary Persian Fiction)Tehran, 1984, pp. 135-48.

Hasan Kamshad, Modern Persian Prose Literature, Cambridge, 1966, pp. 127-30.

Maḥmud Kiānuš, Barrasi-e šeʿr va naṯr-e Fārsi-e moʿāṣer (On contemporary Persia prose and poetry), 3rd ed., Tehran, 1975.

Moḥammad Mehdi Ḵorrami, “Tangsir: Bāzsāzi-e osṭura guna-ye dāstān-e vāqeʿi,” Irānšenāsi 5/2, Summer 1993, pp. 283-91.

Jalāl Ḵosrowšāhi, “Bar ḵākestarhā-ye Sang-e ṣabur,” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 491-7.

Moḥammad Jaʿfar Maḥjub, “ Mahpāra,” Barresi-e ketāb (Book Review) 3:9, spring 1992, pp. 912-14.

Deborah Miller Mostaqel, “The Second Sadeq: The Short Stories of Sadeq Chubak,” in Thomas M. Ricks, ed., Critical Perspectives on Modern Persian Literature, Washington, D.C., 1984, pp. 310-20.

Ḥasan Mirʿābedini, Ṣad sāl dāstān-nevisi dar Irān (A hundred years of fiction writing in Iran), 3 vols., Tehran, 1987-98 (Chubak ’s life and work and his significance in the development of Persian fiction, as well as his impact on the emergence of regional literature are treated extensively in several chapters of the book). Vol. 1, pp. 159-70; Vol. 2, pp. 44-53.

Jamāl Mirṣādeqi, Ababiyāt-e dāstāni (Persian fiction), Tehran, 1986, pp. 621-3.

Aḏar Nafisi, “Barrasi-e adabi-ye dāstān-e ‘Baʿd az ẓohr-e āḵer-e pāʾiz’,” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 211-23.

Moḥammad Ṣanʿati, “Barrasi-e ravānšenāḵti-e āṯār-e Ṣādeq Čubak” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 162-7.

Sirus Parhām, Reālisme va żedd-e reālisme dar adabiyāt (Realism and Anti-realism in Literature), Tehran, 1957.

Moḥammad ʿAli Sepānlu, Nevisandegān-e pišrow-ye Irān (Pioneers of fiction writing in Iran), Tehran, 1983.

Idem, “Dar bāra-ye dāstān-e ‘Kaftarbāz’,” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 505-15.

Farāmarz Soleymāni, “Ṣādeq Čubak, mirāṯ-e qeṣṣa-gu,” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 259-60.

Eḥsān Ṭabari, “Roman-e Tangsir: Manzelgāhi dar adabiyāt-e moʿāṣer,” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 313-6.

K. Tina, “Dar bāra-ye Tangsir,” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 345-56.

Ehsan Yarshater, “The Modern Literary Idiom,” in Thomas M. Ricks, ed., Critical Perspectives on Modern Persian Literature, Washington, D.C., 1984, pp. 42-62. (The article was originally printed in Ehsan Yarshater, ed., Iran Faces the Seventies, 1971, pp. 284-320).

Houra Yavari, “FICTION ii (b). THE NOVEL,” Encyclopaedia Iranica IX, pp. 580-92.

Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Yusofi, “Naqd-e romān-e Tangsir,” inʿAli Dehbāši, ed., Yād-e Ṣādeq Čubak, Tehran, 2001, pp. 465-74.

Mas’ud Zavarzadeh, “The Persian Short Story Since the Second World War: An Overview,” in Thomas M. Ricks, ed., Critical Perspectives on Modern Persian Literature, Washington, D.C., 1984, pp. 147-55.

(Mohammad Reza Ghanoonparvar)

Originally Published: February 20, 2009

Last Updated: February 20, 2009

  • Birthday: 5 August 1926
  • Death: 3 July 1998
  • Birthplace: Bushehr, Bushehr, Iran

Author of Short Fiction, Dram and Novels

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