The Downhearted is a collection of eighteen thematically-connected short stories by nine Iranian writers and nine writers from selected countries on three different continents. The central theme of the stories is despair resulting from man's helpless condition. Although these authors are from various cultures and nationalities, they appear to speak in the same language when they describe the predicament of life. Almost every story in this collection scratches below the surface of everyday existence to reveal the absurdity of life in an aimless and futile world, in which man is tormented by an unexplained anxiety.
Of the nine Iranian writers who have contributed to this collection, three ( Amir Hasan Cheheltan, Manouchehr Karimzadeh & Houshang `Ashurzadeh) still live in Iran. Three of them [Nasim Khaksar, Reza `Allamehzadeh & Ghazi (Qazi) Rabihavi] live in Europe. One (Mehri Yalfani) lives in Canada, and two (Soudabeh Ashrafi & Morteza Miraftabi) live in the United States. Some of these writers are well-known in Iranian literary circles and others are just establishing their careers.
Of the nine non-Iranian writers whose works have been selected and translated for the collection (William Faulkner & Ernest Hemingway) are from the United States. The remaining works presented are by Luigi Pirandello (Italy), Heinrich Böll (Germany), Maria Luisa Bombal (Chile), Mirjam Tuominen (Finland/Sweden), Slawomir Mrozek (Poland), Nirmal Vermâ (India), and Tayeb Salih (Sudan).
This book is recommended to those who are interested in world literature in general, and in contemporary Iranian fiction in particular.