Tehran Book Fair starts today: Islamic publishers descend on Iranian capital for tightly-scripted 'celebration' of literature

Fresh off the London Book Fair, the hungover publishing industry is heading to Iran for the Tehran International Book Fair, which starts today and runs through may 12th. (All images: Mehr News Agency)

Um, actually, slight correction: The publishers of "Bioeconomics of Fisheries Management" are indeed welcome, as the Los Angeles Times reports that's one of the few Western titles that will be featured at the fair. As for the mainstream book industry, it's about as welcome as Woody Allen in the repressive Islamic state, where access to outside cultural influences is tightly regulated by the mullahs and their bearded puppet, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

According to the Iran Book News Agency, the fair will be held at "Tehran's Grand Imam Khomeini Prayer Ground with the motto of 'a Quarter of a Century of Cultural Jihad." The LA Times says that some 500,000 visitors are expected daily to buy and sell books that promote "Islamic values," which means that Bethenny Frankel's new novel isn't going to get the traction it deserves.

This is the 25th year of the Tehran fair. According to Iranian cultural officials, 2,451 publishers will attend, hawking some 207,170 titles.

Iran's semi-official PressTV agency said the Tehran fair was "the most significant event of its kind in Asia and the Middle East and a significant venue for publishers and book lovers to exchange opinions and experiences."

Unless, that is, you run afoul of Iran's strict religious codes.That's what happened to the publishing house Chesmeh, which got shut down by Tehran's meanies in 2011 for publishing Western titles like "My Name Is Red" by the Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk. And in 2010, the authorities said no book that had been published before Ahmadinejad became president in 2005 would be allowed at the fair.

The fair's own website describes the warning of a culture minister: "any publishers with anti-Shii titles would be barred from the fair…any titles that may contain obscene materials or images will be seized and their publishers will be banned from the cultural fair forever."

also required of attendees will be an "adherence to Islamic code of clothing and behavior."

It is unclear how large a role Holocaust denial will have at the book fair, but don't be surprised to find at least a couple of "historical" titles on this topic beloved by the nutty Ahmadinejad. for example, last year saw the publication of the subtly-titled "The Holocaust – The Jews' Greatest Lie."

how did culture-rich Persia get from the poetry of Rumi to this insanity? Beats me, but I think I'll stick to my Bethenny Frankel for now.

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Tehran Book Fair starts today: Islamic publishers descend on Iranian capital for tightly-scripted 'celebration' of literature

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