Roshanak Daryoush


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Roshanak Daryoush was born in Iran in 1951. She moved to Germany with her parents, went to school there, graduated and became involved in the CISNOU, the Confederation of Iranian Students. She finished her studies in political science and sociology in Hanover and Munich, with honors. After the Shah’s regime ended in February 1979, she returned to Tehran only to find her name on a list of persons to be immediately arrested upon arrival. The enchantment with Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution did not last long. Daryoush applied in vain for a teaching position at Iranian universities, but the new regime had taken over the files of the secret service SAVAK. Thus, Roshanak Daryoush began working freelance as a literary translator. Thanks to Daryoush’s translation, Manès Sperber’s world renowned book Like a Tear in the Ocean, was immediately well received in Iran. She also translated texts by Jean-Paul Sartre and Leszek Kołakowski, Siegfried Lenz, Lion Feuchtwanger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In 1983 she married the journalist and translator Khalil Rostamkhani, and, in 1989, their son Kaveh was born. When she became involved in the establishment of an Iranian Writers’ Association, she was put under massive pressure, was watched by intelligence agencies and repeatedly arrested. At the end of 1997, several of her colleagues were abducted and soon thereafter murdered. A warrant was issued for Roshanak Daryoush’s arrest; she fled to Germany and was able to move to Munich in early 2000 due to a fellowship from the Writers in Exile Program. In April of that year, she worked as an interpreter in Berlin at a meeting organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. When the other participants returned to Iran after the conference, most of them were detained. Her husband, Khalil Rostamkhani, who had interpreted during the preliminary conference in Tehran, was also arrested in his home. Their son was able to join her in Germany in 2001. Until November 2002, Roshanak Daryoush was a PEN grant recipient. On 1 November 2003, she succumbed to a serious illness.