But Professor Abbas Milani, a historian and director of Iranian studies at Stanford University, said the book eclipsed Mr Pezeshkzad’s more serious writing, including his scholarly research into literature by Persian poets Hafez and Saadi. Mr Pezeshkzad, he said, wanted his literary and non-fiction work to receive equal attention. This has never been the case.
When Stanford University awarded Mr. Pezeshkzad its Bita Award for Persian Arts in 2014, around 1,200 people attended the ceremony, the most for any Iran-related event at the school.
Iraj Pezeshkzad was born on January 29, 1927 in Tehran to Hassan Pezeshkzad, a doctor, and Gohar Fekri Ershad, an aristocrat of the Qajar dynasty.
Mr. Pezeshkzad had a sister and three half-brothers and since the age of 9 he lived in a compound surrounded by a lush 30,000 square foot garden. Some members of his extended family also lived at the compound.
As a child, he was a keen observer of his surroundings and those who inhabited it and later drew inspiration from them as a writer. In an essay about his childhood, for example, he recalled the delusional uncle who held court with children, asking them to pay homage to him by kissing his hands.
After graduating from high school in Iran, Mr. Pezeshkzad earned a law degree from the University of Dijon (now the University of Burgundy) in France. He soon began writing satirical short stories for Iranian publications and translating books by French writers like Voltaire and Molière into Persian. Back in Iran, he marries Mahin Chaybani. She died in 1979.
In Iran, he was a judge for five years, then worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as head of its cultural division until he was purged from his post after the revolution. Throughout, he wrote a popular satirical column for a literary magazine and produced plays, articles, research papers and books.