Akram Pedramnia is an Iranian-Canadian novelist, translator, researcher, and activist. She writes in both Persian and English languages.
She is the author of four novels in Persian on themes which reveal underlying social issues based in Iran. She has an academic background in English literature and a professional background as a medical doctor. Pedramnia is the translator of James Joyce’s Ulysses into the Persian language, for which the first volume was published in the Spring of 2019 and the second volume was released in the fall of 2020. Among others, she has also translated F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night (2009) and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (2013), the latter of which was disseminated through the Iranian black market. She has translated various works by authors such as Colm Tóibín, E. L. Doctorow, Joan London, Richard B. Wright, Noam Chomsky, and Naomi Klein.
Through the process of translating and disseminating uncensored seminal works, Pedramnia challenges a system of imposed censorship. Censorship of words, themes, and sometimes complete works is an inevitability for a Persian translator. In the case of Lolita, copies of its audiobook and e-book were distributed online for Persian readers. Following their discovery of the underground dissemination of her uncensored translation, the Iranian Ministry of Cultural and Islamic Guidance declared the work an obscene publication, prohibited further sales, and ordered for its collection and confiscation. Despite this ban, circulation of the novel is still going strong, indicating the need for uncensored classic works by Iranian readers. The first volume of her Ulysses has followed a similar trajectory: it was translated without censorship, published abroad and is now being distributed illegally. To encourage accessibility to readers, Ulysses in Persian is offered free in digital PDF format. In the face of suppressive initiatives by the Iranian government, Pedramnia is continuing her search in more inventive ways to render sensitive materials into the Persian language without having to yield to censorship procedures.
Pedramnia contributes to literary criticism publications and has written essays on translation. She has been a guest speaker in the English Literature Department of New York University in the academic years of 2019 and 2020 and a lecturer in University College Dublin at 2018 Summer School. She is a member of International James Joyce Foundation and Pen Canada.
Pedramnia is a recipient of the Friends of the 2019 Zurich James Joyce Foundation Scholarship and the 2020 Joyce Translation Scholarship and Looren Residency. Her 2019 translation of Ulysses received a Literature Ireland Translation Grant.
One of the strongest-willed translators active today. Confronting pernicious state-sponsored censorship, watching as dubious publishers eight time zones away put her work into print without permission or payment.
- Peter O’brien, The Globe and Mail
Her translations are distributed as pirated or over the Internet without her earning a cent – but that does not bother Akram Pedramnia. She is even pleased. Thanks to her, Iranian readers can read Lolita or Tender Is the Night
- Angela Schader, Neue Zürcher Zeitung