Art And Culture

Frayn’s Psychological Novel in Persian

“Where does she go on her walks up through the nasty tunnel under the railway?”“Where does she go on her walks up through the nasty tunnel under the railway?”

‘Spies,’ a novel written in 2002 by English author and dramatist Michael Frayn, 83, is now available in Persian.

The Persian translation of the psychological novel by Kayhan Bahmani, 45, has been released by Chatrang Publication, a publishing house in Tehran focusing on literature and cinema, Khabaronline reported.

The Persian edition comes in 245 pages. The book is about an elderly man, Stephen Wheatley, who talks about what he saw in the World War II as he wanders around modern London.

During the WW II, Stephen and his friend Keith live in a suburban cul-de-sac on the edge of the countryside. They entertain themselves with war games and fantasies about the secret lives of family and neighbors.

One day, deciding that Keith’s laconic, glamorous mother is in fact a German spy, they begin to observe and follow her. 

There’s something clearly wrong about her. Stephen’s detection of a code in her innocent telephone exchanges with the local butcher is comic; but it is not long before there are indeed signs of wrongness. Why does she go shopping at odd times? Where does she go on her walks up through the nasty tunnel under the railway? What is she leaving in a tin hidden in the undergrowth next to the tracks? 

Stephen reads the diary of Keith’s mother Mrs. Hayward. Some days are marked with a mysterious x and some with an exclamation mark. He thinks that the latter indicates successful sabotage operations. 

Then Stephen finds out that Barbara Berrill, a girl from a neighboring house, has in turn been spying on him, and is offered by her the predictable explanation of adult behavior. 

For a sophisticated reader, or for any re-reader of the novel, one of the pleasures of plot-detection is seeing that the explanation of Hayward’s behavior might be different from the most obvious one, says the Guardian’s review on the novel.

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