Amir in Leiden

Step 6 of 9

Abandoning the collection

Related images

Fig 6: The autographed edition of Alasdair Gray, LanarkFig 7: The title page with the autograph by Alasdair Gray reading “To Amir Maniee, with thanks from Alasdair” Fig 8: The academic journal in which Amir’s reworked thesis on Samuel Beckett has been published (2012)

This copy of Lanark by Scottish author Alasdair Gray marks an important moment in Amir’s life. He received it from none other than the author himself, a beautiful edition adorned with Gray’s autograph, from when Amir went to Edinburgh for a semester abroad. It was one of his most exciting semesters, Amir tells us. But again, when he returned, he had to appear before the Islamic authorities: during his stay, he had attended a university event which was dedicated to the works of Salman Rushdie, and he had to account for this upon return to Iran at the Islamic office of Tehran University. Lying was the only thing Amir could fall back on at that moment, and so he had to say that he had not attended that specific event.

For some time after that, things went more smoothly. He finished his Master’s in English literature with a thesis on Samuel Beckett, which would later be published by Leiden University. He went on to do a Master’s and a Doctorate in Business Administration, all the while working in various industries and climbing up the career ladder as a successful commercial manager. He travelled to many countries on business trips and eventually finished his doctorate in 2018. About three months later Amir would have to flee from Iran. He cannot exactly disclose the details of the events that forced him to flee from Iran. Even now, two and a half years after his arrival in the Netherlands, he still has to take into consideration his safety and make sure that certain information does not fall into the hands of the wrong people. But what was absolutely clear, is that he suddenly had to leave behind everything he had managed to build up. This included his job, his family, and the immense amount of books he had collected over time. Bundles of paper and ink, fiction and non-fiction, manuscripts and leaflets; everything Amir believed in was stored on the bookshelves in his house. But unfortunately, the bibliophile had to leave his collection behind. He was only able to take a few of his most precious books with him - the autographed copy of Alasdair Gray’s Lanark was one of them.