good news iran: Complete version of ‘Samak-e Ayyar’ published in English

Translated into English by Freydoon ‎Rassouli and Jordan Mechner, the book has been recently published by Columbia University Press.  ‘Samak-e Ayyar’ was transmitted orally for an unknown time period, then was transcribed around the 12th century. It was published in 1968 in Iran.

The adventures of Samak, a trickster-warrior hero of Persia’s thousand-year-old oral storytelling tradition, are beloved in Iran. Samak is an ayyar, a warrior who comes from the common people and embodies the ideals of loyalty, selflessness, and honor—a figure that recalls samurai, ronin, and knights yet is distinctive to Persian legend.

His exploits—set against an epic background of palace intrigue, battlefield heroics, and star-crossed romance between a noble prince and princess—are as deeply rooted in Persian culture as are the stories of Robin Hood and King Arthur in the West. However, this majestic tale has remained little known outside Iran.

Translated from the original Persian, this timeless masterwork can now be enjoyed by English-speaking readers. A thrilling and suspenseful saga, ‘Samak the Ayyar’ also offers a vivid portrait of Persia a thousand years ago.

Within an epic quest narrative teeming with action and supernatural forces, it sheds light on the lives of ordinary people and their social worlds. This is the first complete English-language version of a treasure of world culture. The translation is grounded in the twelfth-century Persian text while paying homage to the dynamic culture of storytelling from which it arose.

Freydoon Rassouli is an artist, author, and translator whose books include ‘Fusionart, Rumi Revealed’, and ‘The Book of Creativity’. His artworks have been exhibited widely, and he painted two major street murals in Venice, California, and downtown Los Angeles.

Jordan Mechner is a New York Times best-selling author, screenwriter, graphic novelist, and game designer. He is the creator of ‘Prince of Persia’, one of the world’s most successful video game franchises, which he also adapted as a feature film. His books include the Eisner-nominated graphic novel ‘Templar’ (2013).


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