Bratislava’s new ICORN resident Farhad Babaei is a writer, editor, and graphic designer from Iran. He began his literary endeavours in the 1990s, starting with short stories and expanding to other genres later. Farhad has been involved in literary workshops linked to the magazine ‘Karnameh’, which was subsequently banned in 2007, where he read out his stories to other participants, leading him to pursue his writing career more seriously.
Babaei’s first book Her Lover Azrael, a collection of short stories focusing on the lives of lower-middle class couples in the style of Magical Realism was published in 2006. He went on to write numerous stories and novels including Nowruz (2007), Tower (2009), Graffiti (2010), Jamming (2010), Demon Land (2011), The Condition of Bahram for Nahid (2011), and Disintegration (2014). However, due to the themes explored in his work, ranging from war, protest, sex, and religion, Farhad Babaei was censored and not allowed to publish any of his works in Iran until 2015.
Despite the situation in his home country, several Babaei’s books including Jamming, Tower, Disintegration, and a second edition of his first book Her Lover Azrael were published in UK and Germany. A short story written by Babaei was also published in Australia, as part of the anthology The Third Script: Stories from Iran, Tasmania & the UK. In 2023, one of his novels, Jamming, was translated into the German language and was published in Germany.
Aside from writing, Farhad Babaei created the short film Period in 2010, and he has written the scripts of short documentary films, including Density of Emptiness, directed by Shirin Barghnavard. Some of Farhad’s work has been adapted for theatre, and he has also organised and led creative writing workshops for young people.
In 2018, Babaei was awarded the prestigious Jean Jacques Rousseau Fellowship by the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany.
Due to continuous censorship, interrogation, and harassment by the regime in Iran, Babaei was unable to obtain a license and publish any of his books. Following the publication of his work abroad, Farhad faced increased threats and persecution, and was blacklisted from publishing in Iran.
Bratislava ICORN City of Refuge
In October 2023, Farhad Babaei arrived in Bratislava and took up the city’s first ICORN residency. To welcome the writer in Slovakia, Bratislava ICORN City of Refuge with a series of events introducing Babaei and his work.
Starting with a press conference on the morning of November 15th, Farhad engaged with local media outlets which responded positively. On the evening of the same day, Babaei had his first public engagement which included a discussion about his life, work, and ICORN residency as part of Bratislava’s festival programme, marking the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer.
On November 16th, the Mayor of Bratislava Matúš Vallo held an official audience with Farhad Babaei, after which the writer was interviewed by a local journalist.
As an ICORN resident, Babaei plans on publishing his works in Slovakia, collaborating with a composer in writing an opera, and holding literary workshops for children and young people. He has upcoming events in Bratislava and in Cologne.
Bratislava joined ICORN in September 2022 when the Membership Agreement was signed by Mayor Matúš Vallo and Hege Lunde, ICORN’s Executive Director.