If anyone even hints to me that I ought to “take up arms against a sea of troubles,” I’m likely to tune out. Too busy, too tired, too depressed about the state of the world. Not knowing what to do about this state of affairs, I often look to literature to help me understand the more shadowy corners of the human condition. If you’re of like mind, you may want to click on Novel Rights (http://novelrights.com/). The website offers high-quality literary work for purchase (at very reasonable rates), using the fees to benefit specific human rights efforts.
I began by reading Ava Homa’s powerful story “Lullaby,” based on the true story of Farzad Kamangar, a Kurdish schoolteacher and poet executed in Iran three years ago after a five-minute “trial.” Homa, a Kurdish writer-in-exile, based her story on the man’s letters, published after his death (her first story collection, Echoes from the Other Land was reviewed here). Powerful and heartfelt, “Lullaby” transported me into a nightmarish world, offering a resolute example of bravery and defiance. In reading a story like this, one is stung by the realization that people like Kamangar went to their deaths never knowing if their sacrifice was worth the effort. For that reason, it’s worth attending to the petitions that follow the story and which urge us to help save the lives of other innocent individuals trapped in Iran’s prison system. The site also has links to Amnesty International.
It’s been said that literature can’t change the world. Yet it can change us, touching us with the humanity we share with Farzad Kamangar and others like him. In pondering their stories, it becomes harder to turn away from suffering, not because of guilt but because of compassion. A writer’s artistic honesty allows us to face the world as it is. I hope you’ll visit Novel Rights and delve into some of their fine literary work.