A Pilgrim in the Rain
Author: Ahmad Mahmoud
ISBN: 9789645643605
First print: 2002
Last print: 2006
Main language: Persian
Page count: 207
Publisher: Moin Publishing House
Translation rights sold:
A Pilgrim in the Rain

A Pilgrim in the Rain is a collection of 12 short stories that unfold in a number of port cities in southern Iran known for their blistering heat. Most of the stories are narrated by an uninvolved observer. In this collection Mahmoud has demonstrated that he is not just good at social Realism, but that he masterfully turns writing techniques fitting the story to good account. He also shows that the language he uses is universal and appreciable by all humans.

Existence or Non-existence features a young man who is serving time along with his friend for murder. The young inmate is in love with a rich girl whose father won’t allow them to get married. As the story progresses, an old man gets killed and the young man and his friend are dragged into the murder case. This unwelcome involvement hands the young man an opportunity to revisit his past and develop a bittersweet understanding of life. Love and crime, guilt and innocence, as well as hope and disappointment are so masterfully intertwined in this story that the reader finds the book simply unputdownable.

Rat race, oppression, encroachment of technology on rural life, growing poverty and injustice, power and wealth, accumulation of despair, love, friendship, freedom, perplexity and loneliness are some of the themes the author has built his stories on. What stands out about Mahmoud is that in developing these themes he does not abandon himself to duplication.

In The Opium-Addicted Baboon the human world is looked at through the eyes of a trained monkey. Its defamiliarization of the familiar aspects of human life makes the story more intriguing.

Under the Scorching Sun portrays a chilling struggle between a man and a shark. In this story the author masterfully illustrates the developments as they unfold and gives the illustration a major role to play in getting the emotional aspects of the story across.

“The shark jerked its way out of Nasroo’s grip, forged ahead and launched an angry assault. Other kids, pale with fright, were wading over. Their voices were drowning each other out. The beach was filled with the shrill screams of women. An exhausted Nasroo ducked the jaws of the shark and scrambled to cradle the big fish. ‘My flesh tastes bitter. I’m sure you’re not gonna like it. Come on! I need a breather. As I said my flesh is bitter. Why me? There are so many yummy fish out in the sea.’”

On the surface, the stories of A Pilgrim in the Rain are discrete and unrelated, but an invisible chain of hope and despair links them together. The characters of the stories scramble to overcome their miseries. Even when they emerge victorious in their struggles, they seem to be losers. The portrayal of human sufferings in the last story of the collection, Out of Nostalgia sees human struggles turn into intoxication and endeavors replaced by infatuation with wine.          

Long Introduction