Life at play impossible worlds of AsEF Soltanzadah’s “The two of Clubs” and “If Night Falls”

Nasrin Qader*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Asef Soltanzadah is one of the most thought-provoking Afghan writers. His work, set exclusively during wartime, may be characterized by both seriousness and playfulness. To borrow Warren Motte’s words, “playing in earnest” is his literary signature. Yet, he occupies a marginal place within the institution of world literature not only because he writes in Persian but also because he is minimally translated and read. In this article, I turn to two of his short stories featuring a game of cards and kite flying, setting them into conversation with theories of play. I argue that by creating a space for play, Soltanzadah brings into visibility and reflects on the process, promise and risk of transforming mere life into life world within the time and space of war, challenging the theoretical framing of play in relation to the real world while questioning the possibility of worlding in the time of war.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of World Literature
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Afghanistan
  • Persian literature
  • Play
  • War narrative
  • Worlding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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